Southern Arkansas Muleriders (3-2) vs. Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (2-3)
Thone Stadium, Russellville, Saturday, 6 p.m.
ABOUT ARKANSAS TECH: Arkansas Tech enters play this evening with an overall record of 2-3 and a 2-2 mark in the Great American Conference. The Wonder Boys have lost their last two games including a 34-0 loss to Arkansas-Monticello in their most recent action.
On the year, the Wonder Boys are averaging 368.2 yards of total offense per game. Through the air, they are averaging 184.4 yards per game, and on the ground, they are averaging 183.8 yards per game. In terms of scoring, the Wonder Boys enter play tonight averaging 27.6 points per game.
Defensively, the Wonder Boys are allowing their opponents an average of 352.8 yards of total offense per game. On the ground, they are allowing 184.6 yards per game, and through the air, they are allowing 168.2 yards per game. In terms of scoring, their defense is allowing 24.6 points per game.
Luke Halpin is the Wonder Boys’ starting singal-caller and in his five games played this season, Halpin has thrown for 854 yards and four thouchdowns. Halpin has also thrown four interceptions on the season.
So far this season, Halpin’s top receiver has been John Simpson. To date, Simpson has hauled in 17 cathes for 216 yards and is the reciepient of three of the four passing TDs. Tony Adams, Jonathan Keener, and Juan Ardley round out the top targets for Halpin as all have caught 11 or more passes.
In the running game, the Wonder Boys are led by Ketrich Harmon. In five games played, Harmon has rushed for 486 yards on 57 carries for an average of 8.5 yards per carry. Harmon has also scored four TDs. Slightly ahead of Harmon in rushing TDs is Justin Owens as he has scored 5 TDs.
Defensively, ATU is led by Logan Genz. On the year, Genz has 48 tackles, 3.5 for loss yardage. Deandre’ Bonner leds the team with two INTs.
LAST TIME OUT… UAM 55, Arkanasas Tech 21: Southern Arkansas scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and piled up a school record 727 yards of offense en route to a 55-21 win over Arkansas Tech in Great American Conference play in the teams’ regular season finale Saturday at Wilkins Stadium.
Ranked 10th in this week’s Super Region 3 poll, the Muleriders (8-2, 6-2 GAC) will now wait till Sunday to see if they have any kind of outside shot at all of moving up into the top six and receiving a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs.
SAU’s 727 yards came on 424 passing and 303 rushing, while the Wonder Boys finished with 344, getting 275 through the air and only 69 on the ground. ATU was held to negative three yards rushing in the first half. SAU continued to re-write the school record books in blowing past the Wonder Boys (5-6, 3-5 GAC), with five team and four individual marks set during the game.
Southern Arkansas’ eight touchdowns in the game give them a total of 53 on the year, breaking the record of 51 in 2002, helping it average 37.3 points per game for a new season mark in passing the 33.8, also in 2002. The 727 yards of offense broke the record of 702 against Henderson State in 2000, and pushed the team to a total of 4,856 on the season and past the 2005 team’s 4,677, and the Muleriders’ 29 pass completions in the contest gives them 225 for the season, moving past last year’s 202.
JOHNSON RUSHES INTO RECORD BOOKS: With an 86-yard effort against East Central, Mark Johnson, the 2008 Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year and two-time All-GAC First-Team running back, set a new career rushing record at SAU. Currently, Johnson has 3,325 career rushing yards and is coming off of his second consecutive 1,000+ yard rushing season. Johnson passed Mark Mason’s (1985-88) old mark of 3,034 career rushing yards.Career Touchdowns Scored Record | With his two touchdown performance against NWOSU, Johnson is now the all-time leader in touchdowns scored in a career with 38. Johnson’s mark surpasses Nik Lewis’ (2001-03) career mark of 37 touchdowns.
• With his two touchdown performance against NWOSU, Johnson is now the all-time leader in points scored. Johnson, who has scored 38 career touchdowns, has accounted for 228 points. Former All-America kicker Jason Williams (1998-2000) previously held the record with 226 points.
• With is 20 carries against East Central, Johnson is now the all-time leader in rushing attemps,
surpassing the previous mark of 597 held by Gerald Pride (1979-82). Johnson currently has 650 career attempts.
NATIONALLY-RANKED OFFENSE: The Southern Arkansas offense has showed that it has the chance to be among the nation’s best once more. So far, the Muleriders offense ranks in the top-30 in three categories:
• 16th — Passing Offense (321.6 ypg)
• 17th — Passing Yards per Completition (15.9 ypc)
• 30th — Tackles for Loss Allowed (25)
CATCHING A NEW RECORD: Sophomore wide receiver Chris Terry had an amazing season debut against Southeastern Oklahoma as he hauled in 10 catches for 247 yards. The 247 yards receving set single-game records for Southern Arkansas and the GAC.
AMONG THE NATIONAL LEADERS: Statistically, several players for SAU are among the national leaders through the first five weeks of the season. QB Tyler Sykora is 8th in passing TDs (15) and is 11th/13th in country in passing yards/per game 1,545/309.0 ypg. WR Chris Terry is 13th in receiving and 16th receiving yards per game with 558 yards and 111.6 yards per game. Terry is also 14th in TD catches with 6. LB Mark Spaight is 6th in forced fumbles with 3. DB Demario Thomas is 21st in fumbles recoverd with 2.
CHRIS FOR SIX: Since being inserted into the starting lineup in the regular season finale in 2012, WR Chris Terry has become a touchdown-catching machine. In the seven games as a starter, Terry has hauled in 10 touchdowns. For his career, which spans 15 games, Terry has 14 touchdowns. The SAU career record for receiving TDs is 36, held by Nik Lewis.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Through the first five games of the season, the SAU defense is showing that they can be a very opportunistic defense as they have forced 15 turnovers, which ranks them 4th in all of DII. Out of the 15 turnovers forced, nine (9) have come via the interception, which ranks SAU 8th in DII. DBs James Thurston and Quan Warren lead the team and rank 33rd in DII with two (2) interceptions each. LB Mark Spaight has also been a key cog to the Muleriders’ ability to force turnovers as he has forced three fumbles in four games played this season. Against East Central, SAU forced six turnovers, which was the most turnovers in a game since 2006. The Muleriders have also not allowed a 300-yard passing performance all season and have limited their opponents to under 110 rushing yards in three of their five games this season.
TOTALLY-BALANCED OFFENSE: With their 500 yards of total offense against Northwestern, SAU has had nine (9) games dating back to last season where they have racked up 500 or more yards in total offense. In all but one of those games, the Muleriders rushed for at least 100 yards and threw for at least 300 yards. The game they did not reach those totals, SAU ran for 225 yards and passed for 284 yards. The Muleriders’ record in games of 500 or more total yards is 6-3 dating back to last season.