Sports, UCM Sports

Mules look to snap three-game skid on homecoming

Sophomore running back Koby Wilkerson and sophomore punter/tight end Zach Davidson celebrate Wilkerson’s touchdown in a 61-7 blowout of Missouri Southern Sept. 29 at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field. The Mules host Nebraska-Kearney for homecoming this Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field. (Photo by Peter Spexarth/For the Muleskinner)

By: Nick Distefano and Jason Brown (Sports Editor)

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Mules football will look to get back to winning in a home matchup against Nebraska-Kearney for homecoming weekend at UCM.

The Mules are struggling this season with a 3-5 record, the most losses sustained by head coach Jim Svoboda in his eight-year tenure at UCM. Their three-game losing streak is the longest by a Mules team since 1998. Most recently, the Mules were blown out on the road, 48-24, against Pittsburg State, bringing their record on the road to 0-4 in 2018.

Senior tight end Seth Hebert said the team is disappointed with how the season has gone, but they are still working hard to improve for this final stretch of games.

“We are not satisfied. We are never satisfied with less than .500 or even any losses,” he said. “I think that we got a lot of young guys and youth on the team and that is something we are going through with season injuries.”

The matchup against the Lopers is UCM’s homecoming game for 2018 and senior offensive lineman Derrick Puni said the team expects a big crowd to show up.

“We expect a big crowd,” he said. (I) Hope all students and families come out and a lot of others coming back. It should be a big crowd.”

Hebert and Puni are among a group of 11 seniors that will play in their final
homecoming game.

“It’s going to be tough,” Puni said. “I have been here for a long time and had a lot of good times here.”

Puni is part of one of the strongest offensive line corps UCM has had. He led an offensive line that blocked for the top passing offense in the nation as well as a top-25 offense as whole in 2016. He
received Don Hansen second team
All-Region honors and was named first team All MIAA during his junior season in 2016.

Hebert said finishing his Mules career would be very emotional for him and his family.

“This game gave me a lot here and gave me a lot of opportunities,” Hebert said. “I feel like me and organizations go a long way but it’ll be sad whenever it ends.
However, I appreciate everything they gave me.”

Hebert’s Mules career has seen him catch 87 passes for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2017, he became the 17th Mule to be named an American Football Coaches Association All-American.

With postseason aspirations out the window, the Mules will try to prevent the first four-game losing streak by a Mules team since 1996 with a win against the Lopers. Nebraska-Kearney is 4-4 on the season after seeing the momentum from their 4-2 start disappear with consecutive losses to Fort Hays State and Northwest Missouri State.

In the remaining two weeks of the season, the Mules will travel to St. Charles, Missouri, Nov. 3 to face another 3-5 team in Lindenwood. The season finale will be at home against No. 11 and conference champion favorite Northwest Missouri State Nov. 10. The Bearcats are 7-1 this season with their only loss coming Sept. 22 to Central Oklahoma.

Kickoff against Nebraska-Kearney is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Walton Stadium/Kennedy Field.

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