May 21, 2024

What is the Longest History in .8 Miles? The Battle of The Ravine is!

93. That is how many Battle of The Ravine games I had never attended before this season. The Battle between Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State from Cliff Harris Stadium was a Bucket List experience and I never knew it. OBU won the shootout that took place Saturday 31-28 in this year’s BATTLE. The knowledge I gained on this trip was great to see and talk to. What is the Battle of the Ravine?

“The Cliff is Lit” -Cliff Harris Stadium. Ouachita Baptist University. Photo Credits- Wes Pruett/4SSM

In Arkadelphia, Arkansas there is a Battle that has been brewing since 1885 in an unsanctioned game. The Battle of today began in 1907. The Battle of the Ravine features two schools, Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State, that are across the street from each other. Literally. It is Division Two oldest Rivalry and the Shortest Road trip distance in two teams in all of College Football in any Division. Ouachita leads the overall series now history 45-43-6. The opposing team and band get dressed in-game gear in their locker room and make the trek across the street. The fans from the opposing teams are there early to meet them as they walk through campus. It is a sight that truly must be seen to fully understand. The rivalry has traditions in many forms. Traditions that have and will continue to last for generations to come.

“Guarding Of The Tiger” OBU Campus – Photo Credits- Wes Pruett/4SSM

The above picture began my experience. What is it you ask? This is a bronze Tiger on the OBU campus. It’s not under construction. This is the tradition by a social club on campus to “Guard the Tiger”. Every year on the game week you see signs, scoreboards, and other things covered to prevent pranks. Then, right in the middle of campus, there is this. A Tiger that has been tormented for years by Henderson State. It has had its tail removed multiple times. Students will stay in tents in shifts with music playing, eating, and making sure no Reddies are nearby. The passion of these students is like nothing I have ever experienced. They take it as an honor to continue this honor.

Alumni have come back to Campus to get reinvolved with old events like this. The Stadium is named after the NFL Hall of Famer and former OBU Cliff Harris. “The Cliff” as fans call it is only lit up at night on Henderson week {picture above}. Former player Mark Morris made the statement in Pregame “When you get down on that field, you just get that feeling back.” His son, Logan Morris, who had that feeling while he played Tight End for the Tigers from 2014-2018, and his Daughter, Kristin Morris, along with his wife, Karen, were all in Purple Saturday morning. Family is what brought him back. Once he came back, he was reignited. His passion, his “inner college kid”, his love of the pageantry. The Tigers team of 2021 sent all Tiger fans at the stadium and home watching online into a frenzy from the Classic that took place.

OBU Fans Packed in for this years game. Photo Credits- Wes Pruett/4SSM

The 2021 game took place between two top 25 teams in D2 football.  The visiting Reddies from Henderson came in at #13 and the Tigers from OBU came in #20.  The Tigers have sustained success and controlled the series as of late. They have had five 10-win seasons since 2014 and have the 7th season of 10 wins in school history. They had won 4 straight in this series coming into Saturday afternoon.

Sunrise in Arkadelphia. – Photo Credits Wes Pruett/4SSM

The Morning was crisp and cool. Fans began pulling in and getting their tents and grills out around 7 am. This all changed at 1 pm at kickoff. The fans were in their seats early to watch the pregame festivities. OBU and Henderson are on their respected sides. Fans coming by shaking hands asking one question. OBU or Henderson? Depending on the answer depended on whether they high five. The passion for the two schools was incredible to see. High school coaches from around the state were there to see their former players. Former OBU and Henderson players were down reminiscing with former teammates. Seniors had the honor of having their last name on their jerseys. One Game. The Game! The game that friends and families wouldn’t speak the entire week off.

OBU in Pregame warm ups – Photo Credits- Wes Pruett/4SSM

Both schools finished their alma maters and the teams took the field to a roar of the entire stadium. “The Cliff” was ALIVE! Ouachita took advantage of an early Reddie turnover to go up 7-0 early. They would extend that lead to 14-0 early. The stadium may have very well been shaking when the Tigers scored to go up 14. The Reddies would battle back to tie this battle at 14 going into the break.

Full house here at “The Cliff” -Photo Credit- Wes Pruett/4SSM

Both teams would exchange touchdowns to make it 28-28 with 57 seconds on the clock. That is when hometown hero, Sophomore Gabe Goodman, would send the Stadium into a frenzy with a 53-yard field goal. The voice of Ouachita Baptist, Rex Nelson, had a Legendary radio call as the play was unfolding. Rex is one of the best voices of football I have ever heard. True legendary voice and style. The Tigers defense would get a 4th and 1 play stop to send the Reddies home. Across the street. Until next season. The Coaches, players, and fans will forever remember this game. You can do all the research on games but being at the game is the ONLY way to understand what it means. The Battle of The Ravine was mentioned on ESPN College Gameday. Why can they not be there? It deserves this exposure. The Universities, Coaches, players, fans, and alumni deserve it. The NATION deserves to see it just like I did.

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