Southern Arkansas University Muleriders vs. Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm
SNU Football Stadium, Bethany, Okla., Saturday, 2 p.m.
The Southern Arkansas (3-3, 3-3 GAC) football team is in relative unfamiliar territory heading into their road game against Southern Nazarene (0-6, 0-6 GAC) as the Muleriders have lost their last two games played. The Muleriders have not lost consecutive games since Oct. 1 and 8 of 2011.
During their two-game skid, the Muleriders are averaging 13.5 points per game and have generated an average of 345.5 yards of total offense. Conversely, over the first four weeks of the season, the Muleriders were 3-1 and were averaging 41.8 points per game and 492.5 yards of total offense per game.
The offense has a chance to get back on track this week as SNU is allowing an average of 53.3 points per game and 549.5 yards of total offense per game.
ABOUT SOUTHERN NAZARENE: Southern Nazarene enters play Saturday with an 0-6 overall record and an 0-6 record in the Great American Conference. On the season, the Crimson Storm are averaging 15.0 points per game and are averaging 300.5 yards of total offense per game as well. 210.7 of those total yards are coming through the air while 89.8 yards are coming from the running game. Defensively, the Crimson Storm are allowing an average of 53.3 points per game while allowing 549.5 yards of total offense per game as well. 276.3 of those total yards per game given up are coming through the air while 273.2 yards are being gained on the ground. The Crimson Storm have scored a total of 12 touchdowns (six passing, six rushing), but have allowed 43 touchdowns (29 rushing, 14 passing). In terms of turnovers, the Crimson Storm have turned the ball over 13 times (nine interceptions, four lost fumbles) and have forced 10 turnovers (five interceptions, five lost fumbles).
SNU’s offense is guided by signal-caller Dylan Terry, On the year, Terry has thrown for 995 yards and has thrown four touchdowns but has been picked off eight times. Three other QBs have attempted passes for the Crimson Storm as well. In the running game, the Crimson Storm are paced by a two-back system with Chris Hunter and Brian Yenor getting a majority of the carries. Hunter has carried the ball more, gained the most yards, and scored the most touchdowns as he has 339 yards on 90 carries and five touchdowns scored. Yenor has rushed for 229 yards on 55 carries and has scored one touchdown. Six wide receivers have caught 10 or more passes so far this season. Ryan Mischler leads the team with 25 catches and two touchdowns. Jarod Martin has the most receiving yards with 260. On defense, the Crimson Storm are led by Michael Hicks. Hicks leads the team with 56 total tackles (29 solo, 27 assisted). He also has one of the team’s five interceptions and one of their five fumble recoveries. Christo Lisika leads the team with the most tackles for loss yardage with 11.0. 4.5 of those tackles have come via the sack as he leads the team in that category as well. On special teams, SNU has attempted four field goals on the season, making two. They have not missed an extra-point attempt on the year as they are a perfect 12-for-12.
LAST SEASON: Southern Arkansas junior quarterback Tyler Sykora (Hot Springs Village) passed for 337 yards and four touchdowns as the Muleriders piled up 521 yards of offense in celebrating homecoming and hall of fame with a 47-14 win over Southern Nazarene (Okla.) on Oct. 20, 2012, at Wilkins Stadium.
Southern Arkansas finished with 339 yards passing and 182 on the ground, while the Mulerider defense limited the Crimson Storm to just 223 total yards, with only 25 of that by rush.
Sykora was 25 of 44 passing for the 337 yards and four touchdowns. Junior receiver Jack Brown (West Mesquite, Texas) caught eight for 64 yards, while Hardman had six for 129 yards.
Johnson gained 92 yards on 16 rushes.
For Southern Nazarene, Terry was 22 of 33 passing for 198 yards, tossing one interception, with Sedrick Johnson catching 10 for 92 yards.
Derick Perkins led the Crimson Storm on the ground, getting only 27 yards on 13 totes.
Junior linebacker Alex Mills (Arlington, Texas) led the SAU defense with six tackles, while junior linebacker Mark Spaight (North Little Rock) and junior tackle Brandon Moton (Forrest City) getting five apiece. Spaight and Moton each had two sacks, with Moton totaling three tackles for loss. Freshman Quan Warren (Linden, Texas) picked off a Terry pass in the end zone in the third quarter and returned it 88 yards.
4-FOR-400: QB Tyler Sykora now has four career games in which he has thrown for 400 or more yards. Only one other Mulerider signal-caller has reached that feat and Austin Civtia did so only once in his career. Sykora has five of the top six single-game passing performances at SAU.
THE MIGHTY 300: With his 318-yard passing performance against Arkansas Tech QB Tyler Sykora has now thrown for over 300 yards in eight of his last 11 games played dating back to last year. SAU has only won four of those eight previous games in which he threw for 300 yards.
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.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: Through six games of the season, the SAU defense is showing that they can be a very opportunistic defense as they have forced 16 turnovers, which ranks them 19th in all of DII.
Out of the 16 turnovers forced, 10 have come via the interception, which ranks SAU 16th in DII. DBs James Thurston leads the team and ranks 18th in DII with three interceptions. LB Mark Spaight has also been a key cog to the Muleriders’ ability to force turnovers as he has forced three fumbles in five 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 four of their six games this season.
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 eight games as a starter, Terry has hauled in 11 touchdowns. For his career, which spans 16 games, Terry has 15 touchdowns. The SAU career record for receiving TDs is 36, held by Nik Lewis.
AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS: Statistically, several players for SAU are among the national leaders through the first five weeks of the season. QB Tyler Sykora is 11th in passing TDs (16) and is 9th/12th in country in passing yards/per game 1,863/310.5 ypg. WR Chris Terry is 8th in receiving and 9th receiving yards per game with 732 yards and 122.0 yards per game. Terry is also 15th in TD catches with 7. LB Mark Spaight is 6th in forced fumbles with 3. DB Demario Thomas is 29th in fumbles recoverd with 2.
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.