Harding’s Quick Start Leads to 45-27 Win over Missouri Southern

SEARCY – For the second straight week, the Harding football team used a great start to defeat a team from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Conference. The Bisons scored the game’s first 28 points Saturday and cruised to a 45-27 win over Missouri Southern at First Security Stadium. Harding scored 26 straight points in its 47-14 victory last week at Southwest Baptist.

With the win, Harding improves to 2-0 to start the season for the third time in the last four years. Missouri Southern dropped to 1-1, falling to the Bisons for the second straight season.

Harding senior linebacker Scott Dutile, who led the Bisons with 11 tackles, recovered a botched punt in the endzone with 10:45 left in the first quarter to put HU ahead. The Bisons then scored on six of their next seven possessions to take a 38-7 lead after three quarters. Blake Smith’s second touchdown run of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter extended the lead to 45-7.

Missouri Southern’s Ricky Hughes then returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Adam Hinspeter then led two scoring drives for the Lions, scoring from one yard out on the first one and passing 14 yards to Colin Bado for the second.

Each of Harding’s first three touchdowns came off turnovers. Following Dutile’s score, Harding converted a pair of fumbles into a 1-yard Adam Lybrand touchdown and a six-yard Reid Smith touchdown catch.

The Bisons used a dominating ground game to control the ball for nearly 37 minutes of the game. Harding rushed for 175 yards on 44 carries, while the HU defense limited Missouri Southern to only 34 rushing yards on 26 carries. Lybrand led the Bisons with 74 rushing yards on 13 carries with one score. He also completed 11-of-14 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.

Hinspeter, who did not start the game for the Lions, completed 19-of-21 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Bado had both receiving scores.

Missouri Southern actually outgained the Bisons, 326-311, but could not overcome the four turnovers.

Harding is back in action next Saturday as it opens Gulf South Conference play in Carrollton, Ga., against the University of West Georgia.