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Running back Braden Jay carries the ball during Harding University's 7-6 win over Grand Valley State.
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Harding University football plays for its first national championship

The Arkansas university, associated with Churches of Christ, is undefeated and will play for the NCAA Division II crown. Meanwhile, K-12 Harding Academy wins state championship.

It’s a good year to be a Bison or a Wildcat in Arkansas — especially if you like pigskin.

For the first time in its history Harding University’s Bisons football team earned a spot in the NCAA Division II national championship.

The Searcy, Ark., university, which is associated with Churches of Christ, posted a 14-0 record — also a first — as it defeated Lenoir-Rhyne University of Hickory, N.C., in the semifinal game at Harding’s First Security Stadium.

In the 55-14 victory, the Bisons racked up 500 total yards, including 431 yards rushing. The university reached 5,659 rushing yards for the season — a Division II record.

“I am crazy proud of the way that these young men have battled this fall and how much they have sacrificed to be in the position that they are in,” said Paul Simmons, head football coach. “Their success this fall is an awesome testament to what can happen when a group of men truly love each other and are willing to commit on a really deep level.”

The win put Harding in contention for a national title against the Colorado School of Mines, which will make its second consecutive appearance in the championship game in McKinney, Texas, on Saturday.

Harding Academy claims state title

Meanwhile, the Harding Academy Wildcats football team also claimed a title of its own, winning Arkansas’ state championship for class 4A.

Harding Academy, a K-12 school associated with Churches of Christ whose campus adjoins the university, finished a perfect 15-0 season with a win over Rivercrest in Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.

After a practice session at the stadium, the Wildcats stopped on their way back to Searcy at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to show their support for coach Kyle Evans and his wife as their baby daughter, Rubye, underwent heart surgery.

Harding plans pre-game festivities

On Friday, Dec. 15, Harding University hosts a pep rally and reunion reception from 7-10 p.m. at the Sheraton McKinney, located at 1900 Gateway Blvd., McKinney, Texas, 75070. A tailgate begins at 9 a.m. Dec. 16 at the McKinney ISD Stadium & Community Event Center,  4201 S. Hardin Blvd., McKinney, Texas, 75070.

To purchase $20 general admission tickets for the national championship game or find information about how to watch the game via livestream, visit HardingSports.com.

Filed under: Arkansas football College football Harding University Harding University football national championship NCAA Division II Partners Top Stories

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