Southern Arkansas will clash Saturday with Eastern New Mexico at noon Saturday in the Heritage Bowl at Corsicana, TX.
The Muleriders (8-3) of the Great American Conference face the Greyhounds (7-4) of the Lone Star Conference at Corsicana ISD's Tiger Stadium.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate on Saturday. Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children 3-12 and children 2 and younger are admitted for free.
Parking lots open at 9 a.m. and the gates open at 10 a.m.
Eastern New Mexico will be the home team.
The Muleriders of the Great American Conference won seven of their first eight games in 2019 and capped off the regular season by reclaiming the Battle of the Timberlands Trophy; the eight wins marks the first time since a three-year period from 1997-1999 that the Muleriders have posted consecutive seasons with at least eight victories.
A win on Saturday would give SAU its ninth nine-win season in program history and first since the 2016 season.
The 2019 Mulerider offense, one of the program's more balanced attacks in recent memory, is 63 yards shy of moving into tenth place on the all-time list for total yards in a single season. The unit could potentially become the first team in program history to rush for and pass for 2,150 yards in the same season.
Individually, redshirt freshman Kor'Davion Washington, an All-GAC Second Team selection, leads the Muleriders with 859 yards rushing on 144 carries, including nine touchdowns. Washington is 12 yards shy of eclipsing 1,000 all-purpose yards this season. Redshirt senior SirCharles Perkins is 16 yards away from reaching the same mark.
Junior quarterback Hayden Mallory, in his first year as a starter, has posted one of the more efficient passing seasons in program history as his 155.1 rating currently ranks second all-time. His 65.1 percent completion rate is the tenth-best in the country and in a single season for Mulerider signal callers it ranks third all-time.
Sophomore place kicker Austin Wilkerson, an All-GAC First Team selection, currently ranks second in Division II in field goal percentage (92.9 percent | 13-of-14). His 82 points this season are the most for a Mulerider since running back D.D. Holyfield's 96 points scored in 2005.
Offensively, the Muleriders boast one of the most efficient redzone attacks in the country as they rank in the top three in Division II in success rate inside the 20. The team's third-down conversion percentage of 51.7 percent ranks sixth nationally, while the unit's average time of possession (32:50) ranks ninth.
One of the reasons for SAU's success offensively this season has been the play up front. Led by a trio of all-league selections in senior Mason Grantz, redshirt junior Steven Taylor, and sophomore Austin Patricia, the group ranks third nationally in sacks allowed and ninth in tackles for loss allowed.
Offensively, the Muleriders have been led by redshirt junior Antonio Washington, who most recently was named a second team All-America honoree by the American Football Coaches Association. Washington spent a majority of his third season for the Muleriders in the opponent's backfield as he totaled 12.5 tackles for loss; the third-most in the Great American Conference in 2019.
Joining Washington on the league's first team were redshirt senior linebacker Malik Preston and sophomore safety Brock Floyd. Together the trio helped engineer a Mulerider defense that ranked third in the GAC in total defense and rushing defense, and fourth in the league in scoring defense.
Forty-seven players on the Muleriders' numerical roster call Texas home, including 13 players listed atop their respective positions on the SAU depth chart.
Southern Arkansas has lost its previous three games, all bowl matchups, in the state of Texas. All-time, the Muleriders own an 18-15-1 record when they crossing the Red River for a battle in the Lone Star State. The last win for SAU in the state of Texas came in the 2012 season opener: a 56-0 victory over Texas College in Tyler.
SAU holds a 16-12-1 record against schools that are currently in the Lone Star Conference.
The Greyhounds (7-4, 4-4 LSC) enter the postseason having won seven games for the third time in the last four years courtesy of back-to-back wins over Angelo State and Western Oregon to close out the regular season. ENMU finished fifth in the highly-competitive LSC.
Eastern New Mexico boasts the second-best rushing offense in the country churning out over 361 yards per game. By game's end, the Muleriders will have played the top two rushing teams in Division II in 2019 after having played league foe Harding in Week 3.
Senior Paul Terry ranks second nationally in rushing yards after totaling 1,778 yards on the ground in 11 regular season games. His 161.6 rushing yards per game ranks 3rd in Division II. He has scored 14 touchdowns this season.
Additionally, the Greyhounds lead the nation in time of possession controlling the football for over 35:30 per game and the offense owns a 71 percent success rate on fourth down conversions; the eighth-best rate in the country.
Defensively, the Greyhounds allow over 32.8 points per game and 367 yards of total offense.
Eastern New Mexico kicked off the season with a 35-28 opening week victory over Missouri S&T in a game that saw five lead changes and over 680 yards rushing between the two teams. Senior Paul Terry kick started what would become a record-setting season with 189 yards on 31 carries and three touchdowns and helped guide the Greyhound offense to 13-of-17 attempts on third down.
The fireworks didn't stop there for the Greyhounds as they went on the road to Grand Junction, Colo. and picked up a 44-37 win over Colorado Mesa, the program's first overtime win as a NCAA Division II member. In a game that entered the halftime break with the score at just 10-7 in favor of Eastern New Mexico, both teams exploded for a combined 64 points in the second half and overtime period. The Hounds rolled for 27 points in the third quarter alone just to see Colorado Mesa storm back and tie the ball game up at 37-37 with 3:22 remaining on the clock. Quarterback Wyatt Strand scored from six yards out on Eastern's first possession in overtime to move the Hounds to 2-0 with consecutive wild finishes.
The Greyhounds were unable to continue to ride that momentum into their Lone Star Conference opener against No. 12 Texas A&M-Commerce despite outgaining the only LSC school still remaining in the Division II National Playoffs 328-to-325. Terry and Strand both rushed for over 100 yards in that contest, but couldn't overcome a Lion offense that put points on the board on four of their first six drives of the ball game to build a 24-6 halftime advantage.
Eastern quickly answered that opening conference loss against Texas A&M-Commerce with a 48-34 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville despite a two-hour long lightning delay and 14 unanswered points by the Javelinas to start off the third quarter. Those two scores gave Texas A&M-Kingsville a 31-17 lead with 8:46 remaining in the third quarter, but a Greyhound offense that totaled 564 total yards and 515 yards on the ground took over for the remainder of the contest and scored on the final five possessions of the game.
The Hounds picked up their second straight conference win by a final score of 27-24 over Midwestern State thanks to a strong opening half performance and a school-record 40 carries by Terry. Terry turned those 40 carries into 225 yards and helped pave the way for a 17-3 halftime lead for the Greyhounds.
That win over Midwestern State set the stage for a meeting with eventual LSC Champions and No. 4 ranked Tarleton State inside Greyhound Stadium. The Hounds were unable to threaten the Texans with an upset bid and fell 49-10.
Eastern New Mexico responded with a 48-17 win over Western New Mexico the following week thanks to 31 second half points to secure the second consecutive Chile Bowl win for the Greyhounds
The following two weeks were uncharacteristic for the Hounds as they struggled in consecutive losses to West Texas A&M and UT-Permian Basin to fall to 5-4 on the season and 3-4 in LSC play.
The Hounds negated those two losses with wins against No. 21 Angelo State and a 7-4 Western Oregon team to close out the regular season and earn this week's trip to the Heritage Bowl.
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Kor’Davion Washington leads SAU with 859 yards rushing on 144 carries, including nine touchdowns.