Southern Arkansas came from behind three times Saturday, finally wearing down Henderson State for a 28-24 Great American Conference victory at Wilkins Stadium.

O.B. Jones threw for three touchdown passes and Judd Barton had a fourth -- all to different receivers – as the Muleriders (2-2) lost almost every statistical category to the Reddies (3-1), but won regardless.

Henderson took the lead on the fourth play of the ballgame when Andrew Edwards threw a 66-yard touchdown to Mike Benning with 13:12 left in the first quarter. Tristen Heaton’s extra-point try was wide left.

SAU answered on its first drive, which went for 72 yards on nine plays. Jones came out passing, with six completions on the drive. The payoff was a 4-yard pass to Jariq Scales with 9:08 left in the first. Austin Wilkerson’s PAT gave SAU a 7-6 lead.

Henderson retook the lead at the end of a 70-yard, 16-play drive that ended with a 26-yard Heaton field goal with 1:51 left in the first quarter.

SAU’s next scoring drive spanned the first and second quarters. The Muleriders were helped along by a 30-yard run by Jones to the Henderson 3. A penalty pushed the Muleriders back but on third and goal at the 6, Jones passed to Kamden Perry for a touchdown with 10:48 left in the half. Wilkerson’s kick put SAU up 14-9.

Late in the half, Henderson faked a punt but was unable to pick up a first down. SAU took over at its 40. A 17-yard pass from Judd Barton to Matthew Whitten put the Muleriders in Reddies territory.

Barton tossed a 25-yard scoring strike to Seth Johnson with 1:45 left in the half. Wilkerson’s PAT was good as SAU led 21-9.

Henderson came back only three plays later with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Edwards to Xavier Malone. Heaton kicked the extra point.

SAU couldn’t do anything with its opening drive of the third quarter. Henderson also had to punt and SAU was driving toward the red zone when the Reddies Andrew Croker intercepted a Jones pass at the SAU 8.

Henderson used 11 plays to drive 92 yards for a touchdown on a 35-yard pass from Edwards to Malone. Matt Childers caught a conversion pass with 14:13 left to put the Reddies back in the lead, 24-21.

SAU had to punt from deep in its territory but got its biggest break of the game when Henderson’s receiver couldn’t hang onto the football. Cole Williams recovered at the Henderson 38.

The Muleriders converted a third down on an 8-yard pass from Jones to Perry, which put SAU on the Henderson 5. Jones threw his third touchdown pass of the night – a 4-yarder to Blake May. Wilkerson kicked the PAT with 9:35 left for the final 28-24 score.

Henderson almost came back. The Reddies drove from their own 23 to the SAU 20 before an incomplete pass ended the drive.

SAU, with help from a face mask penalty, got a critical first down. Henderson called its last time out and Jones was able to take a knee as the clock ran out.

Henderson’s Malone led all pass receivers with 117 yards on seven receptions, with two touchdowns.

For SAU, Jariq Scales had 83 yards on seven receptions. Kamden Perry was 51 yards on six receptions. Cole Williams had 24 yards on four receptions. Seth Johnson had 39 yards on two receptions.

The leading rushers were Henderson’s Korien Burrell with 77 yards on 14 carries, and Jeremiah Davis with 46 yards on 10 carries.

Jariq Scales led SAU on the ground with 34 yards on 13 carries Quarterback O.B. Jones had 19 yards on 11 carries. Blake May had 10 yards on three carries. Kadyn Roach had 6 yards on three carries.

Henderson’s Andrew Edwards was the leading passer, 23 of 34 for 331 yards and three touchdowns.

Jones led SAU in the air with 22 of 29 with two interceptions. Judd Barton was three of four for 56 yards.

Jacob Berry led SAU with nine tackles. Del Kristoffer Wade had seven tackles. Tim Jennings led Henderson with seven tackles.

Statistics

                                        Henderson        Southern Arkansas

First downs                        24                   20

Rushes, net                        34-147            33-63

Passes, net                         331                 308

Passes, CAI                        23-34-0           25-33-2

Total offense                      68-478             66-371

Punts                                3, 40.7             3, 35.7

Fumbles, lost                     1-1                  1-0

Penalties, yards                  8-76                8-75

Possession time                  31:42              28:18

Southern Arkansas welcomes East Central to Wilkins Stadium for the Muleriders’ Homecoming game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

East Central (2-2) picked up a 31-3 win Saturday against Northwestern Oklahoma (0-4).

GREAT AMERICAN CONFERENCE STANDINGS

Through four games. All games are conference games.

Ouachita                               4-0

Harding                                3-1

Henderson                            3-1

Arkansas-Monticello               3-1

East Central                          2-2

Southeastern Oklahoma         2-2

Southern Arkansas                 2-2

Southwestern Oklahoma         2-2

Arkansas Tech                        1-3

Oklahoma Baptist                   1-3

Southern Nazarene                 1-3

Northwestern Oklahoma          0-4

Saturday’s results

Arkansas-Monticello 35, Arkansas Tech 13

East Central 31, Northwestern Oklahoma 3

Ouachita Baptist 21, Harding 13

Southern Arkansas 28, Henderson State 24

Southern Nazarene 45, Southeastern Oklahoma 34

Southwestern Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma Baptist 31 (OT)

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