CONWAY — Suffering from a number of season-ending injuries he No. 24 UCA Bears will take on the Southland Conference leader No. 17 Southeastern Louisiana University Saturday night at 7 p.m. at First Security Field at Estes Stadium. The game can be followed at www.ucasports.com and it will be broadcasted via Internet on ESPN3.
Injuries have decimated the ranks of UCA this season.
UCA (5-4, 2-2 SLC) has lost seven players including four on defense. Senior cornerback Dominique Brown had his season end during Week 2 at Colorado. Also during that game, redshirt freshman linebacker Aum’Arie Wallace broke his ankle.
Senior safety Karl Brady injured his knee during Week 4 (at Missouri State) and senior quarterback Wynrick Smothers broke his ankle in Week 6 against Nebraska-Kearney.
Senior TE Chase Dixon broke his leg at Lamar (Week 7) and freshman TB Kelton Warren went out last week against Northwestern sTate with a dislocated ankle.
Redshirt freshman TE/HB Cody Dauksch has been out the entire season.
Also missing time due to injuries have been running backs Willie Matthews and Danzel Williams, offensive linemen Kyle Stouffer, Lance Kloker and Bryan Manley, wide reciever Dezmin Lewis and safety Jestin Love, among others.
Due to the injuries, two freshmen saw first action of the season three weeks ago. Wide reciever Jose Moore (Southaven, Miss.) caught one pass for five yards against Lamar. Running back Warren (Arlington, Texas) had four carries for 14 yards and caught one pass.
With a game under their belts, Warren had an 81-yard touchdown run while Moore hauled in a 64-yard TD pass against Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 26.
The Bears, ranked No. 24 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll, lead the overall series with the Lions 5-1 since UCA joined the SLC. The Bears are also 14-1 at home for the past three seasons and 36-7 for the last seven seasons.
Southeastern only into the polls a week ago, is now up to Nos. 16 and 17 after knocking off Top 5 McNeese State last week.
The Lions (7-2, 4-0) controlled the game in its win last week by jumping to a 20-0 lead. Southeastern racked up 439 yards — including 284 on the ground — and 26 first downs in the rout of the Cowboys. Senior Theo Alexander was named Southland and LSWA Defensive Player of the Wee as the Lions held then No. 7 McNeese State to 191 yards.
Southeastern, ranked No. 17 in the FCS Coaches’ Poll and No. 16 in the Sports Network poll, is currently on its best start in the SLC and enjoys a six-game winning streak. The last time the Lions won six consecutive games was back in 1978. The last seven-game winning string was in 1970.
Last week, the Bears lost Warren and left UCA with just one running back in the stable for the second half. Matthews put up 109 rushing yards on nine carries with a pair of 11-yard touchdown runs, and he caught five passes for 28 yards.
The Bears outgained Northwestern State by more than 100 total yards, but had a pair of turnovers and settled for a field goals on two drives in the 31-28 loss.
Junior quarterback Ryan Howard completed 26 of 43 passes for 276 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Courtney Whitehead led the receiving corps with five catches for 75 yards, including a 2-yard TD pass from Howard, and pulled the Bears within 31-28 with 1:25 remaining in the game. Howard hit tight end Thomas Hart for the two-point conversion, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Demons, who ran out the clock.
Senior linebacker Justin Heard had his third consecutive double-digit tackle game with 11 stops. Sophomore CB Dillion Winfrey added eight tackles, including a sack, while senior defensive tackle Matt Hornbuckle had two tackles for a loss.