In a sloppy game that featured seven turnovers, the Harding Rams won their third game of the season against only one loss in a 20-14 victory over the visiting Rocky River Ravens Friday night.
Rocky River had four turnovers, including a big one late. Harding had three.
Trailing by only six points with three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Rocky River drove to Harding’s 25-yard line. But on third-and-long, Rams’ defensive back Joshua Jones picked off a Ravens’ pass to end the threat. Harding’s star running back Dekerius Thompson then picked up two key first downs on runs of 12 and 36 yards to help the Rams run out the clock and seal the win.
“They really weren’t throwing the ball to my side the whole game,” said Jones. “He (Ravens’ wide receiver) ran a comeback and I slipped. The quarterback knew I slipped and he threw it. But I came in front of him and picked it off.”
After a sluggish start by both teams, the Rams scored twice in the final two minutes of the first quarter for a 13-0 lead. Tylon Dunlap scampered 39 yards to give the Rams a 7-0 lead, which was promptly followed up by Thompson’s 25-yard pick six.
At that point in the game it looked like the Rams were going to have an easy win, but Rocky River had other ideas.
Ravens’ star Antjuan Collins hauled in a 43-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Korey Hailey to trim the Rams’ lead to six at the half.
“People started to do the wrong assignments and do other player’s positions,” said Thompson in describing how Rocky River got back into the game. “We got mixed emotions but we stuck it in in the end.”
Late in the third quarter the Rams got their 13 point led back on Maliek Faust’s 79-yard TD run. With Hailey injured in the third quarter, backup Ravens’ quarterback Jaylon Stringfellow once again got Rocky River to within six points midway through the fourth quarter on a perfect 12-yard touchdown toss to Isaiah Mcilwain in the left quarter of the Harding endzone.
RECORDS: Rocky River (0-3) Harding (3-1)
THREE WHO MATTERED:
(Dekerius Thompson – Harding) Had a big impact on all sides of the ball with a 25-yard pick six on defense, a 30-yard punt return on special teams, to go along with 82 yards on 11 carries and one pass catch for 35 yards on offense.
(Jaylon Stringfellow – Rocky River) Came in cold to relieve injured Ravens’ quarterback Korey Hailey to lead Rocky River to a fourth-quarter passing score while rushing for 41 yards on seven carries in a quarter and a half.
(Maliek Faust - Harding) His 79-yard touchdown run was the longest play of the game and proved to be the winning points in the Rams’ victory.
THEY SAID IT: “Yes because he had just gotten a holding penalty so I was kind of mad at him. But then he came back and made the big play so I was happy for him.” Harding coach Van Smith on being happy for Joshua Jones’ big interception late in the fourth quarter.
WORTH MENTIONING: Friday’s game was Harding University’s “Alumni Night” with students coming back from graduating classes as far back as 1987. Several students at halftime shared over the public address system their memories of attending Harding. The Duke Energy building in downtown Charlotte was lit up with maroon and yellow colors in honor of Harding’s Alumni celebration on Friday.
WHAT’S NEXT: Harding will travel to North Mecklenburg next Friday while Rocky River will look for its first win of the season in two weeks when on September 27 the Ravens will play at Butler.
1Q - H – Tylon Dunlap 39 run; (Lee Bumbre kick)
1Q - H – Dekerius Thompson 25 interception return; (kick failed)
2Q - RR – Antjuan Collins 43 pass from Korey Hailey; (Alex Webber kick)
3Q - H – Maliek Faust 79 run; (Bumbre kick)\u0009
4Q – RR – Isaiah Mcilwain 12 pass from Jaylon Stringfellow; (Webber kick)
Rocky River 0 7 0 7 -- 14
Harding 13 0 7 0 -- 20