Harding edges past West Alabama
By By Will Bardwell/staff writer
October 5, 2003
LIVINGSTON, Ala. Adam Lybrand's 32-yard touchdown pass to Reid Smith with 43 seconds remaining gave Harding a 26-21 win against West Alabama on Saturday.
West Alabama, 2-3 after the loss, trailed 20-14 before quarterback Brett Gilliland hurried the Tigers offense to a go-ahead score. Will Harter capped the 95-second, 77-yard drive with a 58-yard touchdown reception from Gilliland on a breakaway over the middle.
The throw was slightly overthrown, but Harter pulled the pass in off his fingertips to give West Alabama a brief 21-20 lead.
Gilliland finished with 397 yards on 29-of-43 passing, making him the Tigers' all-time leading in passing yardage. Gilliland's 34-yard pass to junior wide receiver Deonte Tanniehill in the third quarter broke Marty Washington's old school record of 5,018 passing yards. Gilliland now has 5,127 yards.
Harding's game-winning touchdown was the first offensive touchdown of the day for the Bison, now 2-2. The Harding defense provided two touchdowns in the first half on a 40-yard interception return by Marco Cole and a 10-yard fumble return by Justin Currie.
The Tigers scored their final two touchdowns over an eight-minute span, whereas they had scored only one touchdown over the first 48 minutes of the game. West Alabama head coach Randy Pippin said the Tigers' success did not come from any major halftime adjustments, though.
A one-yard touchdown run by Derick Spellers provided West Alabama with its only points of the first half, leading to a 7-7 halftime tie.
The Bison jumped on the Tigers in the second half, breaking the tie on a Coy Nance 43-yard field goal with a minute and a half left in the third quarter.
On West Alabama's ensuing possession, Harding's Josh Chambers stripped the ball from Gilliland inside the Tigers' own red zone. Justin Currie scooped up the loose ball and ran it back 10 yards to give the Bison a 17-7 lead.
Harding's 10 points all came within 20 seconds.
Gilliland cut the Bisons lead to 17-14 with eight minutes remaining on an 11-yard touchdown strike on a fade pass to B. J. King.
After Nance's second field goal of the day made the score 20-14, Gilliland tossed his second touchdown pass of the day to Harter before the Bison's last-minute comeback.
The Tigers' dim hopes for a comeback win of their own were smothered when Harding's Torrance Daniels forced a fumble by Stoney Pritchett on the Bison's kickoff.
Harter said the late offensive surge by the Tigers gives them confidence to build upon.