MAGNOLIA, Ark. – No. 25 Southeastern was unable to recover from a slow start on both sides of the ball and were forced to play catch-up all day in a 49-19 loss at Southern Arkansas in Magnolia, Ark., on Saturday afternoon.
The loss drops the Savage Storm to 6-2 on the season and moves them into a tie for the top spot in the Great American Conference.
"I love this team," said head coach Bo Atterberry when asked about his team fighting back after being down early. "We tried to claw back and get that momentum but Southern Arkansas was able hang onto it. Hats off to those guys. We need to get as healthy as we can get and we need to execute more effectively."
The Southeastern offense was led by Austin Skinner's 242 yards on 23-of-48 passes with a pair of touchdowns.
The passing game made up nearly all of the team's offense as the rushing attack was held to 42 yards, a season low.
Jaylen Sims was Skinner's top target, finishing with 120 yards on seven catches with a long of 34 yards, while CJ Elkins, Rashod Polk, and Codey McElroy each had three catches, with McElroy hauling in both touchdowns.
Polk turned in half the team's rushing yardage with 21 yards on nine carries.
Joel Carlos became Southeastern's all-time career leader in field goals made with his first connection of the day and with his second pushed his career total to 36 field goals made.
O.J. Walker tallied 119 kick return yards, including a long of 48 yards.
Defensively, Hunter Powell paced all tacklers with 13 stops while adding an interception with a 17 yard return.
Justin Young, Troy Parker and Damarius Lavender each added seven tackles, while Cantrell Gaines recovered a fumble.
Southeastern fell in a deep hole early as SAU scored touchdowns on its first four drives, with the Storm going three-and-out on its first two drives and was picked off on its third.
SE got its first break in the second when Powell picked off Barrett Renner and returned it to the SE 47 yard line.
The Storm would get on the board as they capped that drive with a 10 yard TD toss from Skinner to McElroy, but a two point try would fail and SE trailed 28-6 with 2:53 to go in the half.
Southeastern would force a punt on the ensuing drive and move the ball to the Mulerider 24 yard line which set up a Carlos 41 yard field goal to make it 28-9 at halftime.
SAU would score to cap its first second half drive and open up a 35-9 lead, but the Storm would get a 48 yard kick return by O.J. Walker and Carlos would cap the drive with another 41 yard field goal to close it to 35-12.
The teams would trade fruitless drive in the third before Cantrell Gaines would fall on a SirCharles Perkins fumble with 10 seconds remaining in the quarter.
SE would follow by going 65 yards on 10 plays before Skinner again connected with McElroy, this one for a three yard touchdown to close the gap to 35-19.
Luke Craddock would recover an onside kick try for the Storm on the ensuing kickoff, but the offense would turn it over on downs at the SAU 19 yard line.
The Muleriders would seize the momentum and tack on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to make the final score 49-19.