MAGNOLIA, Ark. – Bill Keopple led Arkansas High to back-to-back 6A state championships 13 years ago, and Saturday he became Southern Arkansas University’s winningest football coach with 63 career victories.
Keopple’s historic win came against Southeastern State Oklahoma on Rip Powell Field in front of a huge Homecoming crowd. Players celebrated the 49-7 win by giving their beloved coach an ice-bath. Before he left the field, Keopple was seen feeding a bottle of milk to his new-born grandson (Cole).
Southeastern was never in the game after a high snap on a punt attempt turned the ball over to the Muleriders at the SEOU 4. Freshman Kor’Davion Washington scored on the next play with 12:44 still on the clock in the first quarter.
SAU improves to 6-1 on the year with the win, and remains tied with Harding and Henderson State for second place in the Great American Conference behind Ouachita Baptist.
The Muleriders took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter after a 1-yard plunge by backup quarterback O.B. Jones of Tatum, Texas.
Pegue gives Keopple ice-bath during celebration
Junior quarterback Hayden Mallory threw touchdown passes to Sir Charles Perkins and freshman Dekendrick Bender in the second period to make it 28-0 at intermission. Perkins, a red-shirt senior, was crowned the Homecoming King prior to the game.
The contest got ugly in the third quarter when SAU added three more touchdowns. Senior Jared Lancaster caught a 54-yard scoring pass from Mallory, while Washington caught a 20-yard TD pass. Mallory finished the game 11 of 14 for 311 yards and 4 TDs.
East Central (1-6) avoided a shutout in the final minutes against SAU reserves. Hunter Hawthorne caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Rollin Kinsaul.
Defensive standouts for the Muleriders included defensive back Tre Williams, linemen Antonio Washington and Demetric Jennings with 5 tackles each. Liberty-Eylau graduate DeMarcus Pegue had 4 tackles, while icing down Keopple’s back after the game.
Senior Malik Preston of Shreveport, blocked a Southeastern field goal attempt, while sophomore Brock Floyd of Frisco, Texas, returned an interception 62 yards for a Mulerider touchdown.
SAU plays at East Central Oklahoma next week, while the Savage Storm plays host to Henderson.