The University of Arkansas at Monticello football team is set to conclude the 2013 season in Magnolia against rival Southern Arkansas for the 2nd Annual Battle of the Timberlands.
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Wilkins Stadium on the SAU campus. The game can be seen online at uamsports.com.
The Weevils enter Saturday’s season finale with an even 5-5 overall record and a 4-5 record in Great American Conference games following a 35-10 loss to Ouachita Baptist last Saturday on the road. The Muleriders are 5-4 overall with the same mark in GAC games following a 66-24 loss to fourth-ranked Henderson State last Saturday in Arkadelphia.
Despite this being the 89th meeting between UAM and SAU in football, Saturday’s season finale marks the 2nd Annual Battle of the Timberlands, a title created prior to the 2012 matchup in a rivalry that dates back to 1913. SAU leads the all-time series 52-35-1 and leads 22-16 in games played in Magnolia. In last year’s inaugural Battle of the Timberlands, SAU won 30-14 in Monticello to take possession of the new traveling trophy.
The rivalry began in UAM’s third season of football, the 1913 campaign. SAU closed out that season with a 26-0 win over UAM in Magnolia. UAM and SAU have always been conference rivals. The rivalry heated up in the days of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference, transitioned into the NCAA Division II with the Gulf South Conference, and now continues with theGreat American Conference.
Saturday’s game marks the final game of the 2013 season. Throughout the history of the program, the Weevils are 37-65-1 in regular season finales, including last season’s 38-35 loss to Northwestern Oklahoma State at home in the final week of the 2012 campaign.
UAM enters Saturday’s game with an even 5-5 overall record and a 4-5 mark in Great American Conference games following a 35-10 setback to Ouachita Baptist last Saturday on the road.
UAM ranks eight in the GAC in scoring at 26.1 points per game, ninth in total offense at 328 yards per game and fifth in total defense at 396.2 yards allowed per game.
Sophomore quarterback Cody Trimble leads the UAM passing attack with 1,126 yards and 10 touchdown passes.
Junior Rod Smith is UAM’s top rusher with 145 carries for 459 yards and six touchdowns.
Junior Skyler Scott leads the UAM recievers with 49 receptions for 638 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior Jamal Nixon trails closely with 47 receptions for 489 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns catches.
Junior Keith Reynolds leads the UAM defense and ranks fourth in the GAC with an average of 8.2 tackles per game. He has totaled 82 total tackles (51 unassisted), including 5.5 tackles for a combined loss of 21 yards and one sack. He leads the conference in unassisted tackles.
UAM leads the GAC and ranks 11th in the country in pass defense. The Weevils are currently limiting their opponents to an average of 173.6 passing yards per game. UAM has held its opponents to under 200 yards passing in six out of 10 games this season, including only 61 yards allowed to Ouachita Baptist last Saturday.
Freshman kicker Jamie McGee has posted All-America type numbers in his first collegiate season, ranking second in the nation in field goals per game with an average of 1.7 per contest. McGee broke UAM’s single-season record for field goals made three weeks ago and is looking to pad that record today in the final game of the 2013 season. He leads UAM in scoring with 17-of-19 made field goals and 26-of-28 made extra points attempts. His 77 points scored this season is just one point away from breaking the UAM record for points scored in a single season by a freshman.
Despite the recent struggle in the turnover margin, UAM is still one of the top teams in the GAC in terms of turnovers gained. The Weevils rank second in the league in total turnovers gained with 25 and also second in total turnover margin at plus-6 and plus-0.6 per game. The Weevils rank second in the league in fumbles recovered with 37 and fourth in the league with a total of 14 interceptions.
The Weevils have been limited to just 19 total turnovers this season, including only losing four fumbles through 10 games.
The Boll Weevils lead the GAC and rank eighth in the country in red zone scoring. UAM has put points on the board 91 percent of red zone opportunities this season. Throughout 10 games this season, UAM has been perfect inside the red zone in eight games, including each of the past three games.
SAU enters Saturday’s game with a 5-4 overall record and the same mark in GAC games following a 66-24 loss to No. 4 Henderson State last Saturday on the road.
The Muleriders rank fourth in the league in scoring at 35 points per game, fifth in total offense at 432.2 yards per game and fourth in total defense at 383.7 yards allowed per game. SAU’s passing offense ranks second in the GAC and 21st nationally at 298.2 yards per game.
Quarterback Tyler Sykora leads the SAU offense with 2,519 passing yards on 168 completions with 26 touchdown passes. He ranks 15th in the country in passing touchdowns and 19th in yards per completion (14.99). His favorite target is Chris Terry, who has caught 40 passes for 913 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Mark Johnson leads the SAU rushing attack with 175 carries for 771 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively, Tate Mustin and Mark Spaight lead the Muleriders with 69 and 68 tackles, respectively. Mustin has 7.5 tackles for losses. Spaight has 6.5, including 1.5 quarterback sacks.
UAM is led by third-year head coach Hud Jackson, who has compiled an 11-21 overall record since taking over the program prior to the 2011 season. Before UAM, Jackson spent the previous six seasons as associate head coach at Central Arkansas following a highly decorated 13-year high school coaching career in the state of Louisiana.
Bill Keopple is in his fifth season at SAU and has compiled a 20-30 record at the helm of the program, including an 8-3 finish in 2011, which featured a win in the CHAMPS Sports Bowl over McMurry. Prior to SAU, Keopple was the head coach at Arkansas High School in Texarkana. Keopple has 30 years of coaching experience, including 18 years as an assistant coach at the collegiate level with stops at Tulsa, Boise State, Arkansas and Central Arkansas.