East Central at Southern Arkansas

Wilkins Stadium, Magnolia, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Media: Live Video, Live Stats at muleriderathletics.com (multimedia tab)

LOOKING TO REBOUND: Following a disappointing 56-50 loss in the season-opener against Southeastern Oklahoma, the Southern Arkansas football team looks to rebound in their 2013 home-opener against East Central.

Last year, the Muleriders (0-1, 0-1 GAC) went to Ada, Okla. and handed the Tigers (1-0, 1-0 GAC) their only shut-out loss of the season as SAU picked up a 19-0 win.

Under head football coach Bill Keopple, the Muleriders are 1-3 in their first game of the season at Wilkins Stadium.

That lone win came last season as SAU knocked off Southwestern Oklahoma, 35-34. Over the last 10 years, SAU is 6-4 in their home-opener.


♦ Out of the 14 games played in this series, five (5) have resulted in one team shuting out the other. SAU has been on the positive side of this result four (4) times.

♦ Back when both teams competed in the NAIA, this was fairly a consistent series. The two teams twice played six-straight years from 1953 to 1958. After a 35-year break, the two

resumed play against one another in 1993 and played each other for six more consecu-

tive years each year until 1998.

♦ With SAU’s jump to NCAA Division II, the series haulted, but was renewed in 2011 when

the two played each other as Great American Conference foes.

ABOUT EAST CENTRAL: East Central enters play this evening with a 1-0 overall record and a 1-0 GAC record after they beat Arkansas-Monticello by a score of 46-22 in their season-opener in Ada, Okla. ECU came into the 2013 season ranked as the fifth team in the Great American Conference as voted on by the league head coaches.

In their win against UAM, East Central was opportunistic on defense as they came away with four interceptions. Two of those intercetpions were garnerd by Quiman Black. The final of

his two picks went for ECU’s final points of the game as Black ran 80-yards for a score in the waining seconds of the third quarter.

On his first interception, Black returned it for 58 yards to set up an ECU score. For his outstanding defensive effort, Black was named as the GAC Defensive Player of the Week.

Through one game this season, ECU showed that they feature a strong running game as they ran against the Arkansas-Monticello defense for an impressive 224 yards. Junior running back JoJo Snell led the rushing attack as he totaled 101 yards and a TD on 16 carries. Behind Snell on the ground was senior Justin Todd. Todd came close to the century mark with 97 yards and two TDs on eight carries.

In the passing game, ECU struggled in their first action of 2013 as they threw for just 73 yards on 18 pass attempts.

Starting QB Spencer Bond was accounted for all passing yards, but the sophomore was only 7-for-17 in the game. Bond did throw a TD to Lindsey Anderson in the 3rd quarter. Bond also ran in for a score in the 1st quarter.

Defensively, ECU is led by pre-season All-America recipient Fred Gaines. Last year Gaines led the GAC in interceptions with seven.

Muleriders picked to finish 2nd Coming off of an 8-3 record and their first postseason appearance since 2003, the Southern Arkansas football team has been tabbed to finish second in the Great American Conference in 2013 as it was voted on by the league’s head football coaches and announced by the conference office on Monday.

The high preseason ranking for SAU is justified in the fact that the Muleriders return 19 starters from last year’s team, with eight players coming back to one of the country’s most prolific offenses and seven players returning to a much improved defense unit from prior years.

PRE-SEASON ALL-AMERICAS: Seniors Mark Johnson and Tyler Sykora have been tabbed by D2Football.com as pre-season All-Americas. Both Johnson and Sykora appear on the outlet’s Fourth-Team pre-season list. Last season, Johnson was an All-GAC First-Team selection at running back while Sykora was an All-GAC Second-Team choice at quarterback.

RUSHING TOWARDS THE RECORD BOOKS: Mark Johnson, the 2008 Gulf South Conference Freshman of the Year and two-time All-GAC First-Team running back, is just 44 yards shy from setting a new career rushing record at SAU. Currently, Johnson has 2,991 career rushing yards and is coming off of his second consecutive 1,000+ yard rushing season. Mark Mason (1985-88) is the current record-holder with 3,034 career rushing yards.

Johnson enters play Saturday with 33 touchdowns scored, placing him second all-time at SAU. Johnson needs five (5) touchdowns to surpass Nik Lewis’ (2001-03) career mark of 37 touchdowns. Having scored 33 career touchdowns, Johnson has been responsible for 198 points scored, placing him third all-time at SAU. Johnson is now 29 points from setting a new mark. Former All-America kicker Jason Williams (1998-2000) holds the record which is currently 226 points.

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.

HOME-OPENERS: Under head football coach Bill Keopple, the Muleriders are 1-3 in their first game of the season at Wilkins Stadium. That lone win came last season as SAU knocked off Southwestern Oklahoma, 35-34. Over the last 10 years, SAU is 6-4 in their home-opener.