Austin Wilkerson booted a 48-yard field goal with four seconds left Saturday night, as Southern Arkansas beat Oklahoma Baptist 30-28 during an improbable comeback.
The Wilkins Stadium home crowd went wild as teammates swarmed the sophomore kicker from Dallas’ Sunnyvale High.
The game-winner was Wilkerson’s third field goal of the night and the longest of his collegiate career. It preserved Southern Arkansas’ 17-game home field winning streak, which is the longest in NCAA Division II football.
Southern Arkansas led 27-14 going into the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma Baptist’s Joshua Cornell scored touchdowns of 23 and 24 yards on passes from quarterback Preston Haire. The second touchdown, with 1:34 left to play, gave the Bison a 28-27 lead.
The OBU kickoff was out of bounds, which gave SAU a first down at its own 35. Seeming disaster struck the Muleriders with 51 seconds left, when Bison Vante White intercepted a Hayden Mallory pass at the OBU 30.
SAU had all three of its time outs remaining, and used them all. OBU was unable to get a first down and punted. SAU was penalized for blocking in the back during the return and with only 37 seconds remaining, was 87 yards from the goal line.
Mallory’s receivers made a series of clutch receptions, and Mallory made a series of spikes after them to stop the clock. Dennis Daniels made a catch for 20 yards. O.B. Jones made another 20-yard catch. Mallory threw an incompletion but OBU was charged with a face mask penalty for a first down at the Bison 37.
Lastly, Mallory threw to SirCharles Perkins who made a 6-yard gain and, more importantly, fought his way to the home sideline at the OBU 31 to stop the clock with four seconds left.
Wilkerson and his holder, Jared Lancaster, came on for the 48-yard field goal attempt from the left hash mark. Oklahoma Baptist called a time out.
After the reset Wilkerson booted a high arching kick toward the goal post. The football barely cleared, but dropped into the angle between the crossbar and the right upright. The game was over.
Oklahoma Baptist (0-2, Great American Conference) took a 7-0 lead after Southern Arkansas went four-and-out on its first possession. The Bison drove 70 yards in nine plays. The big play on the drive was an Isaiah Mallory run with a face mask penalty attached, which gained 21 yards to the Muleriders 17.
Tailback Tyler Stuever made a good cut back inside to score on a 7-yard run. Luke Wendl hit the extra point for a 7-0 Oklahoma Baptist lead with 9:50 left in the first quarter.
After trading punts, Southern Arkansas had control at its 26. Jared Lancaster tipped a Mallory pass back to himself for a 20-yard gain.
Mallory found Micah Small cutting back inside from a sideline route for a 40-yard touchdown with 2:17 left in the first quarter. Wilkerson kicked the first of his three extra points to tie the game 7-7.
The drive covered 74 yards in seven plays.
Oklahoma Baptist regained the lead on a 1-yard Stuever run with 14:21 left in the half. It came at the end of an eight-play, 75-yard drive.
Southern Arkansas answered quickly. Mallory tossed a 64-yard touchdown to Lancaster to complete a three-play, 75-yard drive with 13:13 left in the half. Wilkerson’s PAT tied the game 14-14.
Oklahoma Baptist’s next drive stalled on an incomplete Haire pass. Southern Arkansas took over at its 31. A 26-yard completions from Mallory to Jaidon Parrish gave SAU a first and goal at the OBU 3, but the Muleriders were unable to punch it in. Wilkerson kicked the first of his three fields goals, a 19-yarder with 5:36 left in the half and a 17-14 SAU lead.
There was no more scoring until late in the third quarter. Wilkerson kicked a 26-yarder with 5:18 left in the third quarter, capping a 10-play, 77-yard drive. SAU led 20-14.
The Muleriders appeared to have the game in hand when they churned out a 92-yard scoring drive that took 14 plays and knocked 6:19 off the clock. Kor’Davion Washington scored on a 2-yard run with 10:42 to play. Wilkerson’s kick gave SAU a 27-14 lead.
Oklahoma Baptist, which lost to SAU 55-45 last year in a shootout in Shawnee, then proceeded to knock the Muleriders back on their a – artificial turf.
It initially appeared that the Muleriders might stop the Bison near midfield midway through the fourth quarter. But twice, Haire converted third downs into first downs – including a 12-yard quarterback draw to the Muleriders 23. It was from there that Haire threw a touchdown pass to Joshua Cornell with 5 minutes left. Wendl kicked the extra point to close the gap to 27-21. The drive went 45 yards in eight plays.
Southern Arkansas could not make a first down on its next possession, including a no-gain rush on fourth down at the Oklahoma Baptist 48.
The Bison go-ahead touchdown was helped by a 15-yard Haire completion to Isaiah Mallory to the Muleriders 24. From there, Haire and Cornell connected for a second touchdown that looked pretty much like the earlier score – a toss into the left side of the south end zone. Wendl’s PAT with 1:34 left put the Bison ahead 28-27 before the dramatic Muleriders comeback.
SAU (2-0, Great American Conference) will host Harding (1-1, Great American Conference) at 6 p.m. Saturday at Wilkins Stadium. Harding beat Arkansas-Monticello 24-0 on Saturday.
First downs 28 30
Rushes, yards net 32-129 40-184
Passing, yards net 261 350
Passes ACI 47-28-1 33-22-1
Total offense, plays/yards 79-390 73-534
Punt returns, yards 0-0 3-15
Kickoff returns, yards 2-85 3-61
Interception returns, yards 1-0 1-0
Punts, number, avg. 6-40.3 4-31.2
Fumbles, lost 0-0 2-1
Penalties, yards 4-52 5-62
SAU – Kor’Davion Washington, 12-80. SirCharles Perkins, 13070 Dennis Daniels, 9-19. O.B. Jones, 4-11
OBU – Preston Haire, 6-47. Isaiah Mallory, 13-43. Tyler Stuever, 12-30.
SAU – Hayden Mallory, 22-33-1, 350 yards, 2 TDs.
OBU – Preston Haire, 28-47-1, 261 yards, 2 TDs.
SAU – Jared Lancaster, 7-131. Micah Small, 4-83. Michael Ingram, 2-29. Dennis Daniels, 2-27.
OBU – Shae Garner, 10-103. Joshua Cornwell, 5-65. Jacques Henderson, 5-54. Tyler Stuever, 4-14.
SAU – Alfonso Deleon, 4-125.
OBU – Hayden Ashley, 6-242.
SAU – Jaidon Parrish, 2-29. Mahleik Darty, 1-32.
OBU – Keilahn Harris, 1-63. Chris Mehn, 1-22.
SAU – DeMarcus Pegue, 3-6. Antonio Washington, 4-4. Brock Floyd, 3-4. Lorenzo Watkins, 5-1.
OBU – Lane Martin, 4-8. Trejan Lands, 3-9, Josh Arnold, 1-9. Felipe Alvear, 5-3.
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