Southeastern football will host the Southwestern Bulldogs in a rivalry showdown at 3 p.m. Saturday at Paul Laird Field, and one thing is certain: With one conference win in nine games between these two schools, one of them will emerge with a badly-needed GAC victory.
The Savage Storm (2-4 this season and 0-4 conference) are coming off their 31-6 road win over GAC newcomer Northwestern Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs (1-5 and 1-4 in GAC) lost 45-37 against Arkansas Tech last week.
Southeastern Coach Ray Richards sees a lot of similarities among the two teams taking the field this Saturday.
“They are very similar to us,” he said. “They’ve played a lot of (games) pretty close and had a couple of heartbreaking losses. They are a much better team than their record indicates.”
The same can be said of the Savage Storm, who seem to be running circles around opponents offensively but are suffering the effects of some devastating early-season injuries on the defensive line. Richards said linebacker Logan Russell and tackle Dominique Turner will likely return to the lineup this week, but with limited playing time.
Houston Slemp, who missed last week, will still be out of the lineup, as well as tight end Ryan Shelley.
Even with all the injuries, the Savage Storm was able to down Northwestern by running the ball and not giving up big plays on defense, Richards said. These will be big keys for Southeastern against the Bulldogs.
“When we get into the red zone, we need to get touchdowns. When they get into the red zone, we need to force field goals,” he said. “We’ve got to get them into a lot of third-and-long situations, or third-and-five. We can’t give up any big plays.”
Southwestern gives up 37 points per game, so it could be a big day for the Storm offense. The Bulldogs started their season with a 49-14 loss to Division I school Stephen F. Austin, then eked out a 13-10 win over ECU. The rest has been a string of frustrating losses to GAC opponents.