Defensive Plays Fuel ATU’s First Win of 2019

Deeandra Ervin ATU Football

Sweet relief arrived in the form of a defensive touchdown for Arkansas Tech University at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday afternoon.

Gio Williams’ fumble recovery and subsequent 55-yard return for a touchdown with 11:43 remaining sent the Wonder Boys to a 21-14 Great American Conference victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

Arkansas Tech (1-6) stopped an eight-game losing streak that dated back to the 2018 season and earned its first home win since Sept. 22, 2018.

Williams’ big play broke a 7-7 tie and gave the Wonder Boys a 14-7 lead. Northwestern Oklahoma State responded by driving into ATU territory, but the Wonder Boys’ defense was once again equal to the task.

Darryn Cain’s interception and 32-yard return with three minutes remaining stopped the Rangers’ scoring threat. Six plays later, Tanner Gaines rushed into the end zone from 4 yards out to provide ATU with a 21-7 margin with 53 seconds left.

The Rangers made it interesting with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Trent Easley to Kentrez Bell with 12 seconds remaining.

The subsequent onside kick was recovered for the Wonder Boys by Gaines, and all that was required to complete the victory was one kneel down by ATU quarterback Carter Burcham.

Tre Chism made eight tackles for the Wonder Boys, including 5.5 stops for a loss and three quarterback sacks.

Caleb Batie was Tech’s leading rusher with 18 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.

The Wonder Boys will visit Southwestern Oklahoma State University for a GAC contest in Weatherford, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will provide live coverage.