Troy Mitchell: The History of the Battle of the Ravine


Courtesy of Troy Mitchell

There are not many rivalries as old or rich in tradition as the Henderson State vs. Ouachita Baptist “Battle of the Ravine.” It is the oldest rivalry among current NCAA Division II institutions.           

After 87 games played between these two fine institutions, HSU leads the series 42-39-6. The first game played between the two institutions was in 1895 when then Ouachita College beat Arkadelphia Methodist College, 8-0 on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28.

The second meeting between the two institutions did not occur until 1907 in the first sanctioned game of the series. The Reddies beat the Tigers and went on to claim the Arkansas State Championship. The Reddies went on to win the next six meetings.

The game was traditionally played on Thanksgiving, and both teams made it their homecoming game. The series discontinued in 1951 after Henderson State won 54-0 and the pranks that went along with the series got out of control. The series did not resume until 1963 with the Reddies winning 28-13. The series continued uninterrupted until 1993 because of Henderson State’s move to the NCAA Division II Gulf South Conference.

After a three-year hiatus, the series began again in 1996 as OBU moved to the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference. Ouachita Baptist joined the GSC in 2000 and an eight-year GSC schedule had already been put into place.

GSC schools did not play everyone in the league due to the number of teams. Henderson State and OBU did not play in 2004 or 2005 because the two institutions rotated off each others conference schedules. Henderson State recorded its largest win over Ouachita Baptist in 1932, beating the Tigers 62-0, while OBU’s largest margin of victory was a 66-0 win over the Reddies in 1919.

Of the 87 meetings between the two institutions, the game has been decided by a touchdown or less 39 times, with OBU having the advantage in close games 19-14-6.
Henderson State has won the last four meetings and six of the last eight. 



• 1907: HSU 22, OBU 6 –  at Henderson State
It was the second meeting between the two institutions after an eight year break.  In the first sanctioned game of the series Henderson State legendary coach Jimmy Haygood led the Reddies to a 22-6 win over the Tigers. Henderson went on to claim the Arkansas State Championship.

• Nov. 25, 1926: OBU 14, HSU 7 – A.U. Williams Field
A.U. Willimas Field Opens: 
OBU used a late touchdown by Hardy Winburn which gave the Tigers its third straight win over the Reddies. In a deluge of rain, “Coo” Winburn broke loose for a 35-yard score. It was the first year that the game was played at A.U. Williams Field.          

• 1949: OBU 17, HSU 14 –  Haygood Stadium
Onside Kicks Lead Tigers: It was one of the top OBU/HSU games of all-time as the Tigers rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Reddies 17-14. The Reddies were in complete control for the first 53 minutes and on their way to a share of the AIC championship. However, OBU’s Ike Sharp became an unlikely hero.  Sharp successfully kicked three onside kicks in the last seven minutes. A 1-yard touchdown by Newman made the score 14-7. After a successful on-side kick, Babe Henry silenced the Reddie crowd with a sweep to tie the score. Sharp was called on again to work his magic and the Tigers recovered the kick. With OBU on the Reddie 4, Turner kicked the game-winner. Sharp sealed the deal with another onside kick recovered by the Tigers, and OBU ran out the clock.

• Nov. 23, 1950: HSU 7, OBU 0 –  Haygood Stadium
Reddie Revenge:
 In what was the last game played for the next 13 years between the two institutions, Henderson State put together an 80-yard drive capped off by a Ralph Brooks run to give the Reddies a 7-0 win and the  AIC Championship. Over 8000 football fans witness the Reddies avenge a stunning loss the prior season. Leading up to the game, pep rallies, snake dances, and trips to the closely guarded OBU campus to paint the tiger were featured in Arkansas newspapers. 

• Nov. 28, 1963: HSU 28, OBU 13 – Haygood Stadium
Welcome Back: For the past twelve years, the Battle of the Ravine was limited to the basketball court. In 1963, football returned with no incident. The Reddies beat OBU to  claim a share of the AIC Championship.

• Nov, 22, 1969: HSU 23, OBU 17 – Haygood Stadium   

Reddie Comeback:  In was one of the greatest come-from-behind wins in school history.  Trailing 17-7 late in the third quarter, Henderson State used a balanced offensive attack orchestrated by quarterback Tommy Hart. Hart rushed for 76 yards and threw for 145 yards in the win. Jerry Malone, who ended the game with 87 yards rushing, scored on a 3-yard plunge with Sonny Brooks adding the 2-point conversion to make the score 17-15. Trailing late in the final quarter, Hart hooked up with Charles Walker from six-yards out and the Reddies tacked on the two-point conversion to clinch the AIC Championship.   

• Nov. 18, 1972: OBU 15, HSU 14 – Haygood Stadium

Down to the Wire: OBU used a 47-yard touchdown run by Luther Guinn with 2:23 to play in the game to come from behind to beat the Reddies. Trailing 14-7, Guinn provided his heroic run to set up the game-winning extra-point. OBU decided to go for two and it paid off as Carroll hit Winston in the end zone for the two-point conversion to continue the Tiger streak of three straight wins over the Reddies.

• Nov. 22, 1975: OBU 21, HSU 20 – Haygood Stadium
Stunning Upset: 
After beating OBU the two previous years and winning back-to-back  AIC Championships, Henderson took a 10-0 record and already having claimed at least a share of the AIC title into the 1975 Battle of the Ravine. The Tigers stunned the Reddies and came away with the win and shared the conference title. With the score 20-14 late in the game, OBU faced 4th-and-25. Bill Vining, Jr. completed a pass to Gary Reese which forced a measurement. The Tigers obtained the first down by the nose of the football.  On the next play Vining hit Ken Stuckey on a post-pattern for the game-winner.

• 1978: HSU 7, OBU 6 – Haygood Stadium

PAT Fails Tigers: After a scoreless first half, All-AIC fullback Paul Robinson moved to tailback and was too much for OBU to handle as he set up HSU’s only score. Robinson scored on a  two yard plunge following a 37-yard pass play from George Sparks to Tony Lewis. Randy Hornbeck kicked the extra-point which would prove to be the winning point. With 1:21 remaining in the game, the Tigers put on a ferocious drive which took them to the HSU 2. Neal Turner connected with Jimmy Cornwell for the score and the Tigers elected to go for two. Turner attempted to pass to William Miller for the game-winner, but Ned Parette knocked the ball to the ground to preserve the Reddie win and end OBU’s chances of a playoff appearance.

• Nov. 21, 1981: OBU 17, HSU 13 – A.U. Williams Field
OBU In Total Control: 
Henderson State entered the game ranked No. 16 nationally. The Reddies jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Lawrence Texada in the first quarter. However, behind 406 yards rushing, the Tigers controlled the football for the most part to win 17-13. The Tigers took a 10-7 lead on a Todd Quick 20-yard field goal and a 12 yard touchdown reception to David Muldrew from Robert Jayroe. OBU increased the lead to 17-7 on a 50-yard run by Dwayne Stanley. The Reddies then scored late in the final quarter on a 57-yard pass from Mike Nazarenko to Dwayne Wilkins pass but it was too little too late for the Reddies. The Tigers went on to beat the Reddies five straight years from 1980 to 1984.

• Nov. 23, 1985: HSU 33, OBU 19 – A.U. Williams Field
Losing Streak Ends: 
Henderson claimed its last AIC Championship after beating OBU 33-19. The Reddies were led by running back Kenny Fells who totaled over 1400 yards during the season. The Reddies ended the losing streak to the Tigers with the win.        

• Nov. 22, 1986: HSU 10, OBU 10 – Carpenter-Haygood Stadium
Before Overtime: All the scoring in this game was done in the first half. OBU jumped out to  a 10-0 lead on a Mike Sconyers 28-yard field goal and a Brent Loganbill 1-yard plunge. But the Reddies scored 10 second quarter points on a Fred Williams 25-yard run and a 22-yard field goal by Gary Jackson. The defense took over in the second half with the closest either team was able to get to the opponents endzone was the 38-yardline. Mark Morris led the OBU defense with 13 tackles, while Jay Holland led HSU with 17 tackles.

• Nov. 19, 1988: HSU 3, OBU 3 – Carpenter-Haygood Stadium  

Game Called: In torrential rains and thunderstorms, the two teams totaled just 230 yards in the first half as the field was better fit for canoe races. The two teams traded field goals, but the game was called at halftime because of flooding and severe storms in the area.

• Nov. 18, 1989: HSU 20, OBU 14 –  A.U. Williams Field
Reddies Hold On:
 Henderson State jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and held off a fourth quarter rally by OBU to beat the Tigers 20-14. The Reddie offense gained nearly 500 yards of offense and got a pair of touchdown runs by Calvin Goshen. With a 20-0 lead heading into the final quarter, Andy Jayroe orchestrated a 10-play 80-yard drive that ended with a six-yard score by Mark Kehner. With 2:30 left in the game, Jayroe hit Kehner with a 67-yard scoring strike. After a Gus Malzahn punt down to the OBU 33, the Tigers were left with 1:46 to operate. However OBU could not complete a pass against the Reddie defense in their final drive.              

• Sept. 7, 1996: HSU 21, OBU 17 – Carpenter-Haygood Stadium 
Rivalry Renewed:
 After a three-year hiatus the largest crowd on record (10,691) witnessed Bradford Bragg give Henderson the win in the fourth quarter with a 73-yard run. Bragg rushed for 124 yards on the night with Carlo Gooden adding 116 yards for HSU.  Reddie defensive great Robert Thomas led the team with nine tackles which limited OBU to 66 yards rushing on the day. The Tigers got inside Reddie 30 twice in the final quarter but failed to score . On OBU’s final drive, the Tigers had 2:49  and moved the ball down to the Reddie 30 with less than 30 seconds to play. OBU could get no closer as time ran out.

• Sept. 2, 2000: HSU 16, OBU 9 (ot) – Carpenter-Haygood Stadium
Overtime: It was the first game of the season for both teams and it took an extra period for the Reddies to beat OBU 16-9. In Henderson’s lone win of the season, Chad Luttrull caught a 2-yard pass from Eric Guajardo to give the Reddies the lead in overtime. On OBU’s first play in overtime, Ahkim Shittu fumbled the handoff with Reddie defense recovering the football to end the game.

• Nov. 4, 2006: HSU 48, OBU 28 – Carpenter-Haygood Stadium
Coleman Dairy Battle of the Ravine: Despite being in the same conference, Henderson State and OBU did not play each other in 2005 and 2006. The two teams renewed the rivalry and added a corporate sponsor in Coleman Dairy. The Reddies rallied from a 14-0 deficit and scored 41 unanswered points to win. In front of a homecoming crowd, Greg Godfrey jump-started the Reddies with a 67-yard punt return for a score. Just before half, Garett Manning connected with Marcus Clark for a 14-yard touchdown to tie the score at the break. The Reddies dominated the second half scoring 27 third-quarter points. Bernard Palmer rushed for 151 yards. The Reddies totaled a season-best 515 yards of offense.

• Nov. 1, 2007: HSU 18, OBU 0 – A.U. Williams Field
 Henderson State accomplished something the Reddies haven’t done in nearly 40 years as they shutout OBU 18-0 in the 81st meeting of the Coleman Dairy Battle of the Ravine. The Reddie defense limited OBU to 237 yards of offense. Garett Manning connected with Greg Godfrey for a 78-yard touchdown to break a scoreless tie in the second quarter. Henderson extended the lead to 12-0 on its first possession of the second half when Manning hit Robert Espinoza for a 25-yard score. Henderson added a 1-yard score by Bernard Palmer at the end of the third quarter. Palmer ended the game with 131 yards rushing.

Nov. 6, 2008: OBU 43, HSU 36 Carpenter-Haygood Stadium
Made for TV: It was a game that had two plays featured on ESPN’s Top Plays of the Day, as OBU rallied for the win with just 3:13 remaining in the game when Lance Parker scored on a two-yard plunge. The Tigers scored 27 fourth-quarter points to rally from a 29-16 deficit. Henderson broke a 29-29 tie with 6:40 to play in the game as Bernard Palmer scored on a 37-yard run. OBU receiver Julius Pruitt was the story of the game as he caught his fourth touchdown pass of the game to tie the score at 36-36 before Parker’s winning score. Parker completed 28 of 44 passes for 414 yards with Pruitt having 10 receptions for 250 yards. Henderson’s Roch Charpentier completed 37 of 58 passes for 438 yards and three scores.

• Nov. 12, 2011: HSU 41, OBU 36 – A.U. Williams Field
It was a game that will go down as a classic as Henderson State held on to beat Ouachita Baptist 41-36 at A.U. Williams Field. In a game that will be discussed for years to come, it came down to the final play. With less than one second remaining and the ball on the Henderson 1-yardline, OBU turned to running back Chris Rycraw to win the game for the Tigers. Rycraw was initially hit by Antonio Leak and then stuffed by Taylor Stone to deny the Tigers.
Henderson State built a 41-17 lead with 7:11 remaining in the third quarter before OBU stormed back, scoring 19 unanswered points. Unable to run out the clock late in the game, Henderson State was forced to punt and OBU took over on its own 47 with 43 seconds to play. The Tigers moved the ball quickly down to the HSU 1. On first-and-goal, HSU’s Chuck Obi broke up a Casey Cooper pass, but there was still 0.6 left on the clock. With the crowd of 7,369 all standing, the officials indicated that the Reddie defense held Rycraw from reaching the endzone on the final play and the Henderson faithful stormed the field.

• Nov. 16, 2013: HSU 60, OBU 52 (3OT) – A.U. Williams Field
It will go down as one of the greatest games ever played in the history as Henderson State beat Ouachita Baptist 60-52 in triple overtime at A.U. Williams Field.

Gary Vines intercepted a Benson Jordan pass in the end zone in the third overtime to secure Henderson’s second straight undefeated regular-season. In the first OT, it only took Henderson four plays to score as Kevin Rodgers connected with Darius Davis for a 9-yard score. OBU then answered as Chris Rycraw scored from 8 yards out to make the score 45-45. The Tigers then regained the lead in the second overtime possession as Jordan scored on a 1-yard run. Again, Rodgers went to work hitting Davis on a 4th- and-5 for 17 yards down to the OBU 3. After three failed attempts to get into the end zone, Davis’ number was called again on 4th-and-goal as Henderson’s all-time leading receiver made another acrobatic catch to tie the score at 52-52. In the third overtime, Rodgers and Corey Chappell connected for a 16-yard gain down to the OBU 10. The Reddies then turned to the ground game as Daniel McCoy gained two yards on his first attempt, and then scored on an 8-yard run. Davis then caught the two-point conversion, tipping the ball up and pulling it down to give the Reddies the 60-52 advantage.
Rodgers had a remarkable day completing 29-of-43 passes for 460 yards and six touchdowns. Davis finished the game with nine catches for 136 yards, 3 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion, while Al Lasker had 7 catches for 134 yards. McCoy went over the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. The freshman from Prescott, Ark. carried the ball 24 times and led all rushers with 107 yards. The Reddie offense totaled 604 yards on 86 plays, while the Tigers compiled 461 yards of offense.

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Troy Mitchell is the Sports Information Director for Henderson State University

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