Four weeks of frustration turned into football joy Saturday as Oklahoma Baptist claimed its first NCAA gridiron victory, 56-28, over Arkansas-Monticello.
The Boll Weevils struck first, but the Bison struck more often with 410 rushing yards and 503 yards total offense. The OBU offense resembled the successful running offense of last season with two 100-yard rushers. Jordan Barnes ran for 171 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, while Stephan Turner had 116 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown.
Dezmond Stegall rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown and Isaiah Mallory had 32 yards and two scoring runs.
“Obviously a lot of hard work paid off today,” said OBU Coach Chris Jensen. “I’m grateful the guys didn’t lose heart after going 0-4. The offense played great and we got some turnovers early, got some things cleaned up. I’m so proud of the effort all the way around. There are some things we’ve got to correct.”
Jeremy Jackson scored on a 10-yard run – UAM’s first rushing touchdown of the season – to cap a game-opening 11-play, 84-yard drive for a 7-0 Boll Weevil lead.
After that successful start, the Boll Weevils were stymied for the rest of the half as OBU intercepted to end the next two drives, stopped the fourth drive on downs and forced three consecutive punts.
The Bison didn’t answer that on the scoreboard until Stephan Turner scored on a 13-yard run to wrap up a nine-play, 61-yard drive with 1:50 left in the first quarter.
Mallory scored form a yard out on the seventh play of an 81-yard drive with 7:33 remaining in the second quarter for a 14-7 Bison lead.
Jesse Salisbury caught a blocked punt and scored from 20 yards out to put the Bison ahead 21-7 at the 6:04 mark.
The Bison finished off the half with a Stegall to Turner TD pass from five yards out with 12 seconds remaining in the half to give the Bison a 28-7 cushion. That pass capped an 89-yard OBU drive.
OBU drove 75 yards on the opening drive of the second half with Mallory punching it in from the one and Turner tossed to Zach Mederios for a two-point conversion when UAM didn’t defend the swinging gate alignment.
Hunter Leppert passed to Cody Bordelon for a 55-yard score midway through the third quarter to cut OBU’s lead to 36-14.
Stegall scored on a 15-yard touchdown run at the end of a nine-play, 83-yard drive.
Leppert and Jalen Tolliver connected on a 29-yard scoring pass to narrow the gap to 43-21 and Jackson scored from a yard out to pull UAM to within 43-28 with 8:16 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Barnes scored on a two-yard drun on the 11th play of a 78-yard drive for a 49-28 lead and Blake Woodard passed to Josh Pettijohn for a 16-yard score with 1:13 to go for the final margin.
Stegall passed for 68 yards, connecting on 11 of 18 passes.
Lepper led UAM with 444 yards on 25 of 45 passing.
Defensively for the Bison, Levi Jennings had eight tackles while Brynden Pitzer had seven tackles, two sacks and an interception. Tanner Robertson had a sack and two tackles for loss and Houston Tyler and Gage Wimer shared a sack. D’Ante Meeking had an interception.
The Bison return to action Saturday with a road trip at Southern Arkansas.