Doug Self, Sports Information Director
MAGNOLIA, Ark. – Southern Arkansas scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter and defeated SWOSU 38-14 on Saturday evening in Magnolia.
The SWOSU defense managed two takeaways in the game’s first two possessions, both on passes that were intercepted. Braden Sweet came away with the first pick, but a Bulldog offense three-and-out gave SAU the ball right back. Five plays later, it was Austin Loomis coming away with the interception that set up great field position on the SAU 36.
Rushes from Karltrell Henderson, Cedric Cooper and Casey Freeman set the Bulldogs up with third and goal, when Freeman lobbed a five-yard pass to Jared Rayburn in the end zone for SWOSU’s only score of the half. The lead wouldn’t hold however after the Muleriders immediately answered the SWOSU score with a 10-play, 64-yard drive of their own that spanned nearly five minutes to knot the score up at 7-7.
Turnovers of their own proved costly in the first half for SWOSU, as SAU scored 24 unanswered points to close out the half on two fumble recoveries, an interception and a stop of fourth down. Trailing 24-7, the offense attempted a late-second quarter drive to gain momentum before the half. A drive-killing fumble following a completed screen pass gave the ball back over to Southern Arkansas who marched down the field in 26 seconds for another touchdown and heading into the locker room, the Bulldogs trailed 31-7.
The deficit was far too great for the offense to overcome in the second half, scoring just one more touchdown that came in the fourth quarter on a pass to Eddie Thomas IV. The defense bowed its neck out of the locker room though, allowing just one touchdown themselves the rest of the way.
Casey Freeman and Joel Blumenthal split halves at quarterback. Freeman went 11-of-21 for 73 yards and one touchdown, but one interception to his credit. Blumenthal in the second half completed 5-of-11 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown. The ground game was handled on the night, rushing for only 122 yards on 39 attempts combined. Henderson and Cooper combined for 78 yards, but failed to find the end zone. The offense as a whole totaled 291 yards compared to SAU’s 395.
On defense, SWOSU forced three turnovers – all of which on intercepted passes. Loomis finished with double digit tackles (10) and an interception followed by Antoine Albert with nine tackles. Terry McMillon and Sweet were responsible for the other two interceptions, both earning their first takeaways of the season.
SWOSU (1-2) returns home next week to host Henderson State on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 6 pm on ASAP Energy Field.