Boll Weevils heavy underdogs again this year
LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas' first college football game of the year features a tantalizing matchup of running backs.
Southern Arkansas' D.D. Holyfield, who rushed for 1,154 yards last season, faces Arkansas-Monticello's John L. Williams, who ran for 1,095.
The two finished atop the Gulf South Conference in yards rushing per game -- Holyfield at 104.9 and Williams at 99.5.
Although Holyfield and Williams are pretty evenly matched, their teams haven't been. Southern Arkansas beat the Boll Weevils 52-21 last season. The Muleriders went 6-5, and Arkansas-Monticello finished 1-10.
Boll Weevils coach Gwaine Mathews hopes his team has closed the gap. Southern Arkansas is trying to replace all of its starting offensive linemen, and Mathews has been encouraged by his defensive line's performance in the preseason.
Seniors Brandon Mayweather and Maurice Sevelo are back for Arkansas-Monticello after missing a season. Mayweather sat out 2005 to focus on basketball. Sevelo was having academic problems and redshirted last year.
"Our defensive line is not getting pushed around," Mathews said. "I don't care who we go against."
Arkansas-Monticello will have to control the line of scrimmage to stop Southern Arkansas' triple-option offense. In addition to Williams, the Muleriders have quarterbacks Damian Melancon and Josh SanFilippo returning from last year.
Melancon was hurt in the third game in 2005. SanFilippo replaced him and finished the season with 1,085 yards passing and 525 yards rushing.
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS 30, ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO 10
Last season's record: 72-21 (77 percent)
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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