ADA - The East Central University football team mounted a second-half come-back against Southern Arkansas, but fell 35-28 in Great American Conference action at Koi Ishto Stadium.
The Tigers (1-6 GAC) trailed 21-7 at the half and tallied 21 second-half points. However, the Muleriders (5-2 GAC) scored 14 points in the second half to earn the victory.
ECU had a strong offensive game for the day, recording just 16 fewer offensive yards (393-377) than SAU, with the majority coming on the pass. Junior Ray John Austin-Ramsey went 27-of-43 passing for the day, for 324 yards and two touchdowns passing.
The Muleriders won the rushing game with 217 to 53 yards. Both teams tallied four total touchdowns, with the difference in the game come on an interception return for a TD by SAU.
Senior Dezmon Jackson led the Tigers offense with 138 all-purpose yards, with 119 coming on passes and 19 on kick returns. Freshman Ontario Douglas netted 75 all-purpose yards, with 66 on the ground and nine in the air.
Junior Justin Hayden led the defense with 10 (4-6) total tackles. Senior Patric Edwards added five (2-3) tackles, with two tackles for loss (three yards) and senior Jernell Sutherland netted a fumble recovery and three assisted tackles.
The Muleriders jumped out to 7-0 advantage after the first quarter, scoring on their first offensive possession. SAU added two more touchdowns in the second quarter to push the lead to 21-0, with 7:29 left in the quarter.
It took until the final minute of the first half for ECU to get on the scoreboard for the 21-7 deficit. Austin-Ramsey completed a quarterback sneak from a yard out to finish a five-play 21-yard drive that took just 28 seconds.
The Muleriders struck first in the second half, earning one touchdown in the third quarter to push the lead back to 28-7.
The Tigers responded with a touchdown of their own in the third quarter for a 28-14 score. Junior Tre'von Jackson rushed in from two yards out for the score, with 5:49 left in the stanza.
ECU then added a TD less than a minute into the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to seven (28-21). Dezmon Jackson caught an 18-yard pass for the score, with 14:16 left to play.
SAU waited until late in the quarter to respond, scoring with 1:45 to play to push the lead to 35-21.
The Tigers kept fighting and were able to cut the lead to seven (35-28) with 15 seconds left in the game. Freshman Trey Walker caught a 26-yard pass that capped off a 1:30 drive.
ECU tried for an on-side kick, but the Muleriders recovered to control the game and claim the 35-28 victory.
The Tigers will hit the road for their next outing, facing Henderson State, Saturday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in Arkadelphia, Ark. The final home game of the 2017 season will follow, Saturday, Oct. 28 for the annual Homecoming and Senior Day.