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SOUTHWESTERN UNABLE TO GET OVER THE HUMP AGAINST HARDING IN 16-10 LOSS

[4/5/08] After a wonderful night at Hendrix, in which the Bucs definitely built momentum, they made the short hour drive to Searcy to play a familiar opponent in the Harding Bison. Harding has been a national powerhouse the past few years, and because of the proximity between both schools, has been a relatively easy out of conference game to schedule for both teams.

Because of this both teams were somewhat familiar with each other and the Bucs were aware that the team in 4 tries had never beaten the Bison. Because of some heavy rain and a track meet going on on the field that we were going to play on, the game, originally scheduled for 11a.m., was rescheduled for 5p.m. and started a few minutes after that.

With complete credit to the Bison, the Bucs were not nearly as amped for this game,the one that meant everything for the MCLA, as they were for the exhibition game against Hendrix the night before. Honestly, Harding out hustled the Bucs and more importantly outplayed them physically and mentally to take the game with a 16-10 final.

The Bucs opened the game with a quick score from Lockwood less than 15 seconds into the contest before surrendering two of their own. The Bucs came back to tie it up before the Bison took control and were able to get enough separation that the Bucs were in an uphill battle the rest of the day.

By halftime, after a several goal run in which Harding pulled ahead 6-2, the Bucs trailed 8-4. The Bucs tried to make a comeback in a third that was back and forth, as they scored first to make it 8-5. But each time the Bucs would score, it was a quick and unsettled opportunity, and no time went off the clock. The Bison would come back the very next possession and answer back. This went on for most of the third as the Bucs were not able to get any closer than 3, until the Bison were able to break the mold and place a couple of fast break goals in on a very tired defense that left everything it had on the field.

The fourth was as chaotic as the third, but with much less scoring and many more flags. The Bucs spent a good amount of the time on man up, but simply were not able to capitalize. The Bison were able to, once again maintain their lead and add one more goal than the Bucs to bring the final to 16-10.

Irish may have played the most complete game of his career,and the rest of the attack showed they can play with anyone. The cohesiveness and offensive continuity simply wasn't there when we needed it the most. Harding was poised and precise in their game-plan, and is capable of playing against anyone in the nation. For the Bucs it showed that after all the strides this young team has made, there is still much to learn for everyone on the team.

The 0-2 two weekend put the Bucs in a very tough situation nationally, having lost both OOC games and knowing they must win their conference tournament if they want to make a trip to Nationals again. However, the one positive is that the Bucs can play with these teams. They simply have to figure out how to get over the hump in these types of games and figure out how to win them, and more importantly, believe in each other to do so.

Thanks to both Harding and Hendrix for hosting.

- Bill Bowman