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Live blog: Texarkana Bowl

Mark Haslett
It's not frosty, but it is wet and cold.

Final: Harding 44, A&M-Commerce 3. Lions fall to 7-5; Bison move to 9-2. Rough night, but congratulations remain in order for everyone associated with the turnaround of the A&M-Commerce football program. For a "rebuilding" season, it was more than adequate. 

K-J Garrett finishes with 58 yards rushing. Other than that, not a lot of good numbers to report from the stat sheet. The Lions special teams played well overall. The defense held up well against a powerful Harding offense through the first half, but wore down in the second half. Understandable, considering how the offense couldn't hold onto the ball for long.

Thanks for joining us online at KETR.org and on the air at 88.9 FM. It's been a great season and it's a privilege to serve the A&M-Commerce community and the football fans of Northeast Texas. Thanks particularly to our play-by-play team of Charlie Chitwood and Brock Calloway. I put them on a level with any game-callers in Division II. Thanks also to all the A&M-Commerce student part-time staffers who ran the board during the games (and KETR ops manager Kevin Jefferies who was on the board tonight). Goodnight!

4q 1:23 "In the pines, in the pines/ Where the sun never shines/ I shivered the whole night through." -American traditional, author unknown.

4q 1:39 And now it's 44-3. 

4q 3:42 KETR's Charlie Chitwood speculates that Colby Carthel will be "fit to be tied" after tonight's contest. That comment after the Lions fumble a punt return. Harding knocking on the door again.

4q 4:00 It's 8:40, but it feels much later. Long night over here on the Arkie side of Texarkana. 

4q 5:55 Vernon Johnson: one catch, five yards on the evening.

4q 7:16 Davis in at QB, but hasn't thrown yet. K-J Garrett breaks a big run to bring A&M-C into HU territory.

4q 8:00 Harding up 37-3 after scoring on fourth down from the 11-yard line.

4q 9:09 Harding down to around the Lions 11-yard line. Final score of this one could be bad.

4q 11:06 Things looking grim, but let's take a moment to salute the Lions seniors. They've been through a lot and anyone still on this team deserves praise. Well done.

4q 13:58 Let's not scapegoat Stewart for the offense's performance. He hasn't been on his game, but there's plenty of blame to go around. Quarterbacks always get too much credit and too much blame. 

4q 15:00 One quarter of football is left, Lions fans. Lots can happen in 15 minutes. But boy, what a rough three periods of action so far. Yards of offense: 404-58. Average yards per play: 6.6 to 1.2.

3q 0:48 Lions cannot score from first and goal at the two. Gave the ball over on downs.

3q 2:09 Lions convert on third and 12 and now have a first and goal.

3q 2:51 Total yards 390-47.

3q 2:51 And Cole Pitts finally makes Harding pay for kicking to him with impunity all night. The sophomore returns the kickoff to the HU 13-yard line.

3q 3:30 58-yard TD reception by HU's Finley. And now it's a rout...30-3. This may be "only" a bowl game, but this is kind of heartbreaking for A&M-Commerce fans. Hope the Lions can dig deep and finish the game on a positive note, even if this four-score deficit is looking like a bit much to overcome.

3q 4:17 And Lions go three and out again. Negative yardage on that drive.

3q 5:01 Field goal extends the Harding lead to 23-3. Still 20 minutes of football left. Lions can win this game...stranger things have happened. But seems hard to get one's mind around the concept at the moment.

3q 7:34 Lions' D still playing hard but they're starting to look tired. This has been a long drive. HU first down at the A&M-C 17.

3q 9:24 As Hank Stram would say, the Bison are matriculating the ball downfield. Menacing the Lions' red zone and HU is clearly running time off the clock as they're able.

3q 11:02 There are some people watching from parked cars idling near the end zone. 

3q 13:02 Three and out. No words at this point. Bison get the ball back.

3q 13:32 And...Stewart is still at QB.

3q 13:34 57-yard TD reception (mostly after the catch) by Donatello Luckett and now Harding leads 20-3. Big character test for the Lions here - being down by 17 in miserable conditions, with nothing going right. 

Halftime: Sideline reporter Cooper Welch's microphone won't work. It's been that kind of a night. Bison about to receive the kickoff.

Halftime: Lions coming out of the locker room first. Will be very interesting to see what Carthel and his staff decide to do to jump-start the offense. It's raining harder now that it was earlier. 39 degrees out there. Not much wind, but otherwise, absolutely miserable. 

Halftime: Harding 14, A&M-Commerce 3. Not great, but could have been worse. Lots of football to be played.

2q 0:26 I wonder how wet and cold Cindy Roller is. She's supposed to be taking photos. 

2q 1:49 Lions get a first down but can't move the ball past the 37. Punting time. A&M-C waiting for the half like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. Cannot get here quickly enough. 97 ticks of the clock remain.

2q 3:29 Lions will start work at the A&M-C 21. That end zone looks like it's in New Boston with the way the Lions have been moving the ball.

2q 4:53 If the Lions can enter the locker room down by 11, they can't feel too bad, considering the incredible struggles on offense. 

2q 6:24 With third and 10, Lions give up a sack. Since making the games first down, Lions have not moved the chains. Punting time again. Wow. Lions 4-20 passing.

2q 6:36 Romo Westbrook breaks one loose for a 57-yard TD run. Bison lead 14-3 and Lions D can't be faulted much for having one bad play. This is a talented HU team, with one of the better running attacks in D2.

2q 7:32 Harding chipping away with the ground game. First down at the HU 42.

2q 8:56 Lions offense can't even manage a first down. Thrasher kicks a 36-yard FG and A&M-C is on the board. Harding 7, Lions 3.

2q 9:17 HU punter fumbles the snap and it's Lions ball!

2q 9:24 Lions D gets another three and out. The defense is keeping A&M-Commerce in this game. 

2q 10:50 Lions give away the ball on downs and the turnover yields nothing but field position.

2q 12:39 Watts blocks the punt! Lions needed a special teams play to provide some energy and there it is. Lions ball in Harding territory.

2q 13:18 Pablo Vasquez of the Lions breaks up a pass on third down and the Bison will punt.

2q 14:54 Harding with 1st and 10 at its 35. First quarter stat: Lions with just 48 yards of offense.

End 1q: Harding 7, A&M-C 0. That really reflects how play has gone pretty accurately. 

1q 1:18 Lions, 3-14 passing, just can't get it going on offense. Harding gets the ball back and has a 3rd and 6 at its 30.

1q 2:43 The Lions D has come up with a much-need three and out. Harding punts, Lions get ball once again at the A&M-C 35.

1q 3:46 Lions have 4th and 10 at their 39. Interesting note. On kickoffs, Harding has been avoiding kicking to A&M-C's deep men. Choosing instead to pooch it to the 35-40 instead. Might be a factor later, maybe not. 

1q 3:46 Lions passing game is flat. Three attempts, three incompletes.

1q 4:04 TD Bison. After sputtering in the early going, this Harding offense is clicking. Looking a little bit like the Eastern NM game right now. Lions have to contain the option better to win. 9 play, 76 yards, 4:33 drive for HU.

1q 6:09 Tevin Moore with a huge tackle for loss! But Bison answer with a long rushing gain to make up the yardage and more. Bison then convert third and short and Harding has a first down at the 18.

1q 7:25 First big play of the game - Luckett with a 43-yard pass reception and the Bison have set up shop at the Lions 29. First big test for the A&M-Commerce D.

1q 8:37 Where's Craig Morton? This is reminding me a bit of Super Bowl V.

1q 9:57 Both offenses looking rusty. Lions keep calling long pass plays, but no dividends yet.

1q 10:22 Lions D standing tall so far. Harding can't get a first down and here comes the punting crew.

1q 12:01 Lions got one first down but stalled at midfield. Punt gives HU the ball at its 21.

1q 13:26 Slippery rock! Lions force fumble on Bisons' first play from scrimmage. That cold, wet ball will be hard to hold onto all night.

1q 14:04 Stewart connects with Marsh for a big gain, but Lions lose fumble. Tack on a penalty and Harding has a 1st down at the Lions' 33.

1q 14:57 Lions win toss and receive. A&M-C working near midfield.

Pregame: Folks, I hope I can update promptly. Internet here is sketchy. 

Pregame: About 40 degrees and rainy here at Razorback Stadium in Texarkana, Ark. The pressbox appears to have more people in it than the stadium. Mighty crowded up in here. I think folks are huddling undreneath the stands until kickoff time. 

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.
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