Wonder Boys Host UAM Saturday Night

In the simplest of terms, Arkansas Tech University head football coach Raymond Monica is looking for more moving forward and less moving backward on offense when the Wonder Boys host the University of Arkansas-Monticello in Great American Conference action on Saturday, Sept. 17.

“We’ve got to do a little better job up front when we are running the football staying on blocks and sustaining some drives with some runs,” said Monica. “Hopefully on Saturday night we can come out and play extremely hard and extremely well. I was very disappointed in the number of penalties we had last week. We’ve worked very hard on that this week, and hopefully it will pay dividends.”

Kickoff for the Wonder Boys (1-1) and the UAM Boll Weevils (1-1) is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville.

Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will begin at 4 p.m. Game tickets ($10 adults/$5 students and senior citizens) will be available at the stadium ticket office. Those with a valid Arkansas Tech identification card will be admitted free of charge.

The Wonder Boys dropped a 19-15 decision at Oklahoma Baptist University last Saturday. Arkansas Tech suffered 14 tackles for a loss and was 2-of-15 on third down conversion attempts while being penalized 12 times for 129 yards.

One bright spot in the defeat was the Wonder Boys’ second-half defense. Arkansas Tech held the Bison scoreless after halftime and limited Oklahoma Baptist to 44 yards of total offense during its final seven possessions of the game.

Monica said there is opportunity for his team to get better across the board.

“It’s all phases,” said Monica. “On the back end defensively, I think we can do a better job there. I thought we were pretty solid in the kicking game last week, but there’s always room for improvement there because it only takes one play and you can lose a football game.”

UA-Monticello defeated Southwestern Oklahoma State University 35-28 last Saturday.

The Boll Weevils are led by sophomore quarterback Cole Sears. He directs the top-ranked offense in the GAC (504.5 yards per game) and a passing attack that ranks No. 11 in NCAA Division II (346.5 yards per game).

Junior wide receiver Jalen Tolliver has been Sears’ top target so far in 2016. Tolliver is listed among the NCAA Division II national leaders in receptions (2nd, 10 per game) and receiving yards (4th, 169 per game).

“They are throwing the ball well, but they are also doing a very good job running the football,” said Monica. “That’s one thing they’ve done better this year compared to the past. They are keeping it balanced. As their quarterback goes, their offense will go. This game, to me, is going to come down to how we play in the secondary.”

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage of Saturday’s game.

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