ADA, Okla. — Junior place kicker Austin Wilkerson accounted for three field goals as he punched one through in each of the first three quarters of play. Additionally, freshman running back Jonathan Lewis scored on a five-yard carry in the early going of the fourth quarter and the two-point pass from senior Hayden Mallory to classmate Desmond Jones was successful to cap scoring for Southern Arkansas in a disappointing 38-17 Great American Conference loss to East Central on Saturday afternoon from Koi Ishto Stadium at Norris Field.
The Muleriders (2-3, 2-3 GAC) were held to just 80 yards rushing in the loss as redshirt freshman Jariq Scales led the way with 50 yards on 11 carries. Mallory totaled 210 yards through the air, but did not find the end zone as sophomore Trent Franklin hauled in seven passes for 93 yards to lead all pass catchers. Redshirt junior Micah Small (72 yards receiving) and freshman Cole Williams (34 yards receiving) both caught five passes.
The first two field goals by Wilkerson answered a touchdown from the Tigers which opened scoring less than three minutes into the game on Saturday. Wilkerson’s first make capped a 17-play, 84-yard drive that took eight minutes off of the first-quarter clock.
Leading 7-6 with eight minutes remaining, ECU tacked two more touchdowns on the board including a scoring pass with 21 second left before the intermission.
A 27-yard make from Wilkerson opened second-half scoring and brought the Muleriders to within a dozen points of the ECU lead. The Tigers used a touchdown and a field goal to extend the advantage to 31-9 11 seconds into the fourth quarter, while their final scoring drive; an 11-play, 76-yard trip, took 6:43 off the clock in response of the Lewis’ aforementioned six; the lone touchdown for SAU despite four redzone trips which were all capitalized on.
Southern Arkansas returns to Magnolia and prepares for a homecoming tilt with Southeastern Oklahoma State. The Muleriders have won their last dozen homecoming games. Kickoff from Wilkins Stadium at Rip Powell Field on Saturday, October 9 is set for 2:30 p.m. Live coverage links are available at www.MuleriderAthletics.com.