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Game Notes: Muleriders at Northwestern Oklahoma

Southern Arkansas Muleriders at Northwestern Oklahoma Rangers

Ranger Field, Alma, Okla., Saturday, 1 p.m.

Media: Live stats, muleriderathletics.com

ON TAP: The Southern Arkansas football team will hit the road for the second time this season as they will make the lengthy trek to Alva, Oklahoma to take on Northwestern Oklahoma. It has been 36 years since SAU has taken their talents to Alva, but the Muleriders are poised to come back home this year with a similar result as the last time they went to NWOSU, with a win. The Muleriders (2-1, 2-1 GAC) will enter the game as winners of their last two games after defeating East Central and Southwestern Oklahoma at home. Last week, the Rangers (0-3, 0-3 GAC) nearly earned their first win as members of the GAC as they fell to UAM 22-20.

ABOUT NORTHWESTERN OKLAHOMA: overall record and a 0-3 mark in Great American Conference play. Most recently, the Rangers nearly secured their first win of the season as they fell just short to Akansas-Monticello by a score of 22-20. In that game, the Rangers scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 20-19 lead, but with 10:03 left in the game, UAM would kick the eventual game-winning field goal.

On the season, NWOSU is averaging just 10.0 points per game while allowing their opponents to score an average of 43.0 points per game. Offensively, the Rangers are averaging 260.0 yards of total offense (142.7 passing/game, 117.3 rushing/game). Defensively, NWOSU is allowing their opponents 487.0 yards of total offense (263.3 passing/game, 223.7 rushing/game). L.T. Pfaff and Reid Miller have split time at the quarterback position so far this season as each have attempted at least 35 passes. Pfaff has recorded the most yards through the air with 327 on the season. He also has the only two passing TDs for the Rangers this season. 10 different Rangers have caught a pass this season with Jeremi Anderson leading the way with nine (9) catches. In the running game, Javari Liggins leads the team with 166 yards on 40 carries.

Defensively, NWOSU has eight (8) players with double-digit tackles. LaRon Mitchell leads the team in tackels with 21 total tackles. Jeremy Gutierrez leads the team in tackles for loss yardage with 3.0 and sacks with 2.0. Traveon Kelly has the Rangers’ lone interception of the year and Keenan Santacruz has the lone fumble recovery.

EIGHT IS GREAT: The eight (8) games won for the Muleriders in 2012 were the most wins a season since 2003 when SAU won nine (9) games. That year, the Muleriders went 9-3 and advanced to the First Round of the NCAA DII Playoffs.

IT’S A 50-50 CHANCE: So far this season, the Muleriders have scored 50 points twice, tying the team record for most 50-point games in a season. Previous years with two 50-point games include 2012, 2005, 2003, 1948, 1920, and 1914.

SHOW ME 50, I’LL SHOW YOU A WIN: With the Muleriders scoring 50 points in their first two games of 2013, SAU, as a school has now reached the 50-point mark 27 times. The Muleriders record in games in which they score at least 50 points is an outstanding 26-1. The lone loss came in week one this season when SAU lost to Southeastern 6-50.

JOHNSON RUSHES TOWARDS THE RECORD BOOKS

Career Rushing Record — 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 3,147 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 — Johnson enters play Saturday night with 36 touchdowns scored, placing him second all-time at SAU. Johnson needs two (2) touchdowns to surpass Nik Lewis’ (2001-03) career mark of 37 touchdowns.

Career Points Scored Record — Having scored 36 career touchdowns, Johnson has been responsible for 216 points scored, placing him third all-time at SAU. Johnson is now 11 points from setting a new mark. Former All-America kicker Jason Williams (1998-2000) holds the record which is currently 226 points.

Career Rushing Attempts Record — 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 620 career attempts.

NATIONALLY-RANKED OFFENSE: Early on this season, 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 four categories: Passing Offense (11th, 342.7 ypg); Scoring Offense (25th, 40.0 ppg); Total Offense (29th, 487.0 ypg); Pass Sacks Allowed (30th, 4).

GETTING DEFENSIVE: Through the first three games of the season, the SAU defense is showing that they can be a very opportunistic defense as they have forced 11 turnovers, which ranks them 2nd in all of DII. Out of the 11 turnovers forced, seven (7) have come via the interception, which also ranks SAU 2nd in DII. DBs James Thurston and Quan Warren lead the team and rank 13th 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 two games played this season. Against East Central, SAU forced six turnovers, which was the most turnovers in a game since 2006.

TOTALLY-BALANCED OFFENSE: With their 641 yards of total offense against Southeastern, SAU has had eight (8) games dating back to last season where they have racked up 500 or more yards in total offense. In each of those games, the Muleriders rushed for at least 100 yards and threw for at least 300 yards. The high-powered offense doesn’t exactly result in wins however as their record in these eight (8) games is 5-3 with losses coming to Henderson State (2012), McMurry (2012), and Southeastern (2013).

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