TEXARKANA, Ark. -- Southeastern Oklahoma State and Emporia State meet for the second time on the gridiron this year.
The Savage Storm and Hornets participated in a spring scrimmage earlier in 2021, and by happenstance were selected as the participants for Saturday's Farmers Bank & Trust Live United Bowl. SEOSU (8-3) and Emporia (6-5) will clash at noon at Razorback Stadium.
"I think it's helpful for both teams (that they scrimmaged earlier this year) because there are no like opponents," Savage Storm head coach Tyler Fenwick said. "Their entire schedule was MIAA conference games, and our schedule was GAC opponents. If we hadn't scrimmaged, you would go into the game with nothing but film to game plan off of, and it was a good scrimmage for both teams to evaluate our teams and players.
"But there's been so much football played since we scrimmaged, and both teams have grown and gotten better over the course of this season."
Hornets head coach Garin Higgins agreed that things do change over the course of a season, as teams make adjustments and switch starters in certain roles, but the scrimmage will be helpful for both teams as the take the field against one another.
"Something I found out after the scrimmage is that Southeastern Oklahoma has a good football team," Higgins said. "They handled us well. We realized that we had a long way to go to get better. It helps in preparation. We lined up against each other and we have it on film.
"Granted, some things change from spring to fall. We are not going to change who we are offensively and defensively; they're not either. We got a base look and, from a familiarity standpoint, that is huge."
Savage Storm quarterback Daulton Hatley has completed 241-of-371 passes for 2,850 yards, 24 TDs and just five interceptions this season. C.J. Shavers has 131 carries for 777 yards and three scores, Deundre Wheeler adds 92 rushes for 478 yards and 14 TDs, and Ryan Taylor has 82 for 314 and three touchdowns.
Southeastern's top receivers include Braxton Kincade (53 receptions, 652 yards, 9 TDs), Katrell Blakely (68-624-2), Marquis Gray (32-600-3), Duce Pittman (31-392-3) and Hunter Hawthorne (17-230-2).
Scooter Baker has 72 tackles for SEOSU, Ja'Lon Freeman adds 66, Josh Mulumba 54 and Maalik Hall 53. Jaylen Shaw and Mulumba each have two interceptions.
For the Hornets, Braden Gleason has connected on 317-of-477 passes for 3,084 yards, 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He's also rushed 78 times for 301 yards and three scores.
Canaan Brooks leads the ground attack with 135 totes for 663 yards and seven scores. Billy Ross Jr. has 93 carries for 292 yards and a TD, and Calvin Boyce adds 56 for 201 and four scores.
Corey Thomas has 38 catches for 398 yards and three scores, Dexton Whinehart had 38 for 272 and two TDs, followed by Cole Schumacher (37-384-3), Tyler Kahmann (30-345-4), Jaylen Varner (30-341-4) and Dalton Cowan (29-331-3).
Jaedon Pool and Arich Ansley each have two interceptions, and the leading tacklers are Dawson Hammes (85), Cade Harelson (83), Jace McDown (72), Gee Stanley (61), Jordan Williams (48) and Jaedon Pool (45).
"I think we have been through a lot and we are a close team," Higgins said. "We have lost a lot of close games. We may not be the most talented team out there, but we play hard. We've had a lot of games that came down to one possession. We have been able to get stops when we've needed to. The adversity has brought us closer together.
"Our offense and our defense has played good at times this year but there have been other times where we should have played better."