Ada — If misery truly loves company, the Northwestern State Rangers should be welcome guests at Saturday afternoon's East Central University Homecoming celebration.
Northwestern is one of the few teams in the Great American Conference struggling more than ECU heading to the midway point in the 2012 season. Tim McCarty's Tigers have gained over 300 total yards just twice on their way to a 2-3 record, and they come into Saturday's game (kickoff 2 p.m. at Norris Field) off an ugly 31-14 loss at Harding that left them at 1-2 in league play and on the cusp of elimination from title contention.
On the plus side, Saturday's game won't count in the GAC standings, because Northwestern — like Southern Nazarene a school moving up from the NAIA to Division II this school year — is only a provisional member of the conference. And, on paper, the Rangers couldn't have come along at a better time for ECU, in more ways than one.
In addition to sending his struggling offense against a defense that has given up 256 points through five games, McCarty also has a chance for a no-pressure game on a field where his team has won nine straight — one off the school record the Tigers can equal Saturday and 10 of its last 11 dating back to 2010. ECU needs to get things turned around heading into a brutal stretch of the schedule against three teams — Southern Arkansas, Henderson State and defending GAC champion Ouachita Baptist — currently tied with Harding atop the league standings at 4-0.
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