Fans who made the trip to Oklahoma Baptist University to watch the East Central University football team in Week 1, must have been wondering exactly who these Tigers were that showed up at Norris Field Saturday against Southern Nazarene University.
The Crimson Storm scored the go-ahead touchdown with 19 seconds left in the game to stun ECU 33-30. The Tigers had defeated SNU in the first six meetings of the series, and Southern Nazarene was coming off a 58-0 home loss to Southeastern in its season-opener.
The Ada News reached out to East Central head coach Tim McCarty after the game, but he refused to comment after the shocking loss.
The Tigers won the statistical battle, outgaining Southern Naz 478 to 408. Both teams had two turnovers apiece, and the Crimson Storm even had more penalties (7-5). However, the Tigers lost where it matters most — the scoreboard.
ECU trailed 20-9 early in the third period and 26-16 with 5:07 left in the frame.
However, the Tigers scored back-to-back touchdowns in the fourth quarter to rally for a 30-26 advantage with just 4:11 left in the contest.
The go-ahead drive by ECU was capped with a 35-yard touchdown reception by Trinity Benson on a fourth-and-14 play. Benson caught the ball over the middle around the 15-yard-line and then outraced the entire SNU secondary around the right sideline for the score.
The Crimson Storm took over at their own 28, and quarterback Jacob Spady dinked and dunked his team quickly down the field. The big play of the drive was a 23-yard pass from Spady to Reid Roelofs, who absorbed a hard hit by ECU defensive back Blake Summers (a sophomore from Davis High School) but still managed to hang on to the ball.
Spady wrapped up the 10-play, 72-yard drive with a 12-yard keeper for a score that put SNY on top 33-30 with 19 seconds left in the game.
ECU got out to near midfield when backup quarterback RayJohn Austin-Ramsey completed a 12-yard pass to Dezmon Jackson, who then pitched the ball to Benson, who ran for 11 more yards.
The Tigers had one final play with four seconds left, but Ramsey couldn’t get off a pass before being tackled by SNU’s Stephen Price.
East Central cut its deficit to 26-23 on a 1-yard sneak by Ramsey with 10:19 left in the fourth quarter. That drive was set up by a fumble recovery by Summers that gave the Tigers the ball at the SNU 36. Tight end Dilland Gardner set up Ramsey’s score with a 17-yard catch.
East Central starting quarterback Noah Holle, who lit up the Oklahoma Baptist defense for 351 yards and five touchdowns, struggled mightily against Southern Nazarene. He completed 3-of-14 passes for 55 yards and an interception before leaving the game with an unknown injury. He was spotted on the sideline in street clothes shortly after Ramsey took over. Ramsey finished the game 10-of-17 for 152 yards and a score.
The Tigers led 9-6 at halftime after scoring on a 23-yard run by Ontario Douglas and a 25-yard field goal by Wyatt Austin.
Southern Naz finally got on the scoreboard with 47 seconds left in the second period when Spady — who finished the game 16-of-24 for 211 yards and three touchdowns — connected with receiver Nate Walker for a 19-yard scoring strike. Josh Morgan blocked SNU kicker Carlos Anguiano’s PAT attempt.
Southern Nazarene outscored ECU 20-7 in the third period. The Tigers’ lone score of the period was a 32-yard touchdown run by Douglas, who rushed 20 times for 168 yards. Tre’von Jackson added 88 yards on 12 carries for the Tigers.
Camnik Campbell spearheaded the ECU defense with 10 tackles, while Louden Johnson added eight stops.
The Tigers will look to get back on track at 6 p.m. Saturday, when they meet Arkansas-Monticello at Cotton Bowl Stadium. The Boll Weevils edged Northwestern 37-35 last week.