BETHANY, Okla. — It was a complete effort from Mike McCarty‘s Muleriders on Saturday against Southern Nazarene as Southern Arkansas smothered the Crimson Storm defensively and relied heavily on redshirt freshman Jariq Scales in a 31-10 win in Great American Conference action and improve to 4-6 overall this season and in the process move to 9-0 all-time against SNU.
Freshman David Walker led the impressive defensive output for the Muleriders with a team-high nine tackles, three of which were for losses that totaled 17 yards, a sack and a pair of quarterback hurries. Southern Arkansas allowed just 221 total yards of offense which included only 72 yards on the ground via 36 Crimson Storm rushing attempts.
The Muleriders didn’t allow much more through the air as SNU managed just 13 completions for 149 yards, while SAU picked off three passes: Zack Rice (15 yards), Price Udenze (5 yards) and Michael Washington (45 yards). All three were the first for each player in their respective careers, while Washington’s came in the final moments of the game and put the finishing touches on the victory as he found the end zone.
Southern Arkansas struck first on Saturday as senior Hayden Mallory connected with redshirt freshman Micah Small on a 16-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the game. It was the lone pass play of the eight-play drive that totaled 75 yards. It marked the tenth scoring grab of the season for Small who becomes just the third player in program history to haul in at least ten touchdowns in a single season joining SAU Sports Hall of Famer Nik Lewis (2002, 2003) and Chris Terry (2013).
Small caught three passes for 32 yards on Saturday and now has 49 catches for 839 yards; 161 yards back of becoming only the third receiver in program history to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark.
SNU would score the next ten points on a 98-yard fumble return TD and a short field goal, but the final 24 points came courtesy of the Muleriders with 14 of those answering the Crimson Storm in the first half: a 12-yard run from redshirt freshman Jariq Scales and a 40-yard field goal from junior Austin Wilkerson. The Muleriders led 17-10 at the break.
In the final minute of the third quarter, Scales housed a Mallory shovel pass from thirty yards out to cushion the lead and cap an eight-play, 90-yard drive. Mallory’s 141 yards passing gives him 4,847 for his career; 153 yards back of becoming the only the third Mulerider quarterback with 5,000 yards passing.
Scales’ day saw the Osceola native total 225 all-purpose yards with two touchdowns and he nearly eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark for the third time this season as he finished with 195 yards on 29 carries and a touchdown with a long rush of 38. Scales, who now has 1,307 rushing yards this season, is now just 21 yards away from breaking the program’s single-season rushing record of 1,327 yards set by Julian Frazier in 1993.
Southern Arkansas turns its attention to the final Saturday of the season as the Muleriders play host to bitter league rival Arkansas-Monticello in the 9th Battle of the Timberlands. It will be the 96th meeting on the gridiron between the South Arkansas foes. SAU leads the series 58-36-1. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. from inside Wilkins Stadium at Rip Powell Field. Live coverage links are available at www.MuleriderAthletics.com.