Battle of the Timberlands trophy stays with SAU as UAM loses wild game
Fans only had to watch the fourth quarter of the University of Arkansas at Monticello-Southern Arkansas University game on Saturday to realize they were watching a rivalry game. The Muleriders were comfortably ahead but starting quarterback Si Blackshire was still on the field.
Blackshire and his SAU teammates were able to keep the Battle of the Timberlands trophy with a 66-42 victory over the Boll Weevils that featured 15 touchdowns, 54 first downs and 925 yards of total offense between the two teams. The game was the final collegiate contest for 19 UAM seniors, who were honored prior to the Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium kickoff.
“It was a tough game,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said. “ I thought we played well early. I never thought one play could take the wind out of our sails like the fourth-down play when we had them backed up. That play killed us.
“We had plenty of chances but but players did not make the plays when they had the chance. Several times, we had their quarterback in our hands and did not sack him. He extended plays really well.”
Despite Zikerous Ware’s 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown early in the second quarter that gave SAU the lead for good, the game was nip-and-tuck through the first 20 minutes. Then came what Jackson called an obvious turning point with UAM behind only 21-19.
After a Mulerider interception deep in UAM territory at the 24-yard line, the Weevil defense stiffened and allowed their visitors just three yards in three plays. Bypassing a chip-shot field goal on fourth-and-7, Blackshire found Jonathan Weisheit for 19 yards and a first down at the UAM 2. Two plays later, the SAU quarterback rushed for the score that signaled the beginning of a Mulerider rout. Five Southern Arkansas touchdowns and one field goal later, the Muleriders had scored the most points allowed by UAM since Henderson State University walloped the Weevils 71-0 on Oct. 6, 2012.
“I was hoping to send seniors out on a high note,” Jackson said. “They’ve been a great group. Now, we have to get ourselves ready for the offseason. We feel like we have some talented players that will make a difference in our program.
“The first four games took their toll on our team. We couldn’t bounce back. But we did get the first road win of my era this year. We will continue to build our program and continue to battle towards winning a conference championship.”
UAM’s touchdowns Saturday came on a three-yard run from senior Rod Smith at the 12:08 mark of the first quarter, a 13-yard pass from junior Hunter Leppert to junior Kevin Beckwith at the 2:39 mark of the first period, a 24-yard pass from Leppert to junior Cody Bordelon at the 10:59 mark of the second quarter, a 17-yard pass from Leppert to senior Ivory Washington with one second remaining in the first half, a 28-yard pass from Leppert to Bordelon at the 13:17 mark of the fourth quarter, a quarterback sack and safety by junior Marquis Rogers at the 9:55 mark of the fourth quarter and a five-yard rush from sophomore Brett Courville with 21 seconds remaining in the game.
SAU scored seven points in the first quarter, 28 in the second, 10 in the third and 21 in the fourth. The Muleriders were led by Blackshire, who threw for 274 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 54 yards with two touchdowns.
Leppert finished the game 20-for-44 through the air for 374 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions. Courville was 2-for-4 for 17 yards. Bordelon led the UAM receivers with a career-high 163 yards on just seven receptions for an average of 23.3 yards per catch.
Junior Trey Taylor added five receptions for 55 yards. Washington had four for 45, freshman Jeremy Jackson had two for 50, freshman Jalen Tolliver two for 29, senior Deadrien Terry one for 36 and Beckwith had one for 13.
As a team, the Weevils completed 22-of-48 passes for 391 yards, the second highest passing total for the team this season. The Muleriders completed 20-of-35 passes for 274 yards and added 208 rushing yards on 47 attempts.
Defensively, senior Keith Reynolds paced the team with 15 total tackles and pass breakup. Junior Marshall Everett added nine tackles and senior Louis Curry had six.
Reynolds stole the show early when, at the conclusion of the Senior Day festivities, he proposed to girlfriend Melissa Ohannes at midfield. Ohannes, from Little Rock, was crowned Homecoming 2014 queen this fall.
UAM, which dedicated its season to outgoing Chancellor Dr. Jack Lassiter and his wife Judy, finished the year a disappointing 2-8, a record Jackson said he hoped would be much better for the Lassiters and the team. The seniors presented lettermen’s jackets to both of the Lassiters as Senior Day activities concluded.
“The Lassiters have been special to me and our football program,” Jackson said. “They made my family feel great. I will miss them a lot.”