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Running back Braden Jay carries the ball during Harding University's 38-7 win over Colorado School of Mines.
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Harding University wins national championship

Bisons dominate in 38-7 victory over Colorado School of Mines, capture NCAA Division II crown.

For the first time in its history, Harding University is the NCAA Division II football national champ.

Using a run-intensive “flexbone” offense, Harding flexed mightily against the Colorado School of Mines in the championship game at McKinney ISD Stadium in North Texas Saturday. The Bisons scored 38 unanswered points after the School of Mines jumped to a 7-0 lead at the 9 minute mark in the first quarter.

It would be the Orediggers’ only score of the game as Harding’s defense made big stops on multiple fourth downs and recorded multiple sacks against quarterback John Matocha.

When asked what it feels like to lead his team to its first ever national championship, Harding head coach Paul Simmons let Scripture do the talking.

“It’s unbelievable,” Simmons said, before launching into Ephesians 3:20-21. “My faith is so little, but ‘to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!’ Go Bisons!”

Harding University players celebrate during a timeout in the final seconds of the national championship game.

Harding University players celebrate during a timeout in the final seconds of the national championship game.

In the course of its 15-0 season, Harding racked up more than 6,000 yards on offense — most of it on the ground using a variation of the wishbone offense called “flexbone.” The offensive style relies heavily on the run game, using triple option plays and misdirection to gain yardage. When executed successfully, the flexbone results in consistent, modest gains toward the end zone.

The style results in few of the explosive plays that make highlight reels, but it keeps the opposing team’s offense off the field. During the second quarter, one drive by Harding ran 11 minutes off the clock before ending in a Bisons touchdown.

Playing in a flexbone offense requires players to function well as a team, realizing that standout players may not have the big plays that impress professional football scouts. Simmons said that his players on both sides of the ball played selflessly all season.

Harding University players celebrate with fans during a timeout in the final seconds of their 38-7 national championship win.

Harding University players celebrate with fans during a timeout in the final seconds of their 38-7 national championship win.

“One-hundred percent, guys that love each other, that believe in each other,” he said when asked about his team’s philosophy, adding that his players follow the mantra “let’s honor God with how we love one another. … That was really evident today.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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