Happy Homecoming: Wonder Boys Win 28-16

Arkansas Tech established a new season high in rushing yardage on Saturday night, but the Wonder Boys could not celebrate a Homecoming victory until the final 38 yards were in the books.

Casey Henderson’s 38-yard touchdown run with 1:53 left in the fourth quarter sealed a 28-16 Arkansas Tech victory over the Southeastern Oklahoma State Savage Storm in Great American Conference action at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville.

The Wonder Boys (2-6 overall, 1-2 GAC) stopped a five-game losing streak — their longest since 1993 — by winning their Homecoming game for a fifth consecutive year. It was also Arkansas Tech’s first-ever football victory in GAC play.

Trayshun King carried 16 times for 81 yards and a touchdown and Henderson rushed 10 times for 70 yards and a score to help the Wonder Boys accumulate 170 rushing yards.

Arkansas Tech, which broke out new gold uniform tops for Homecoming, came in averaging 115.1 rushing yards per game and it had not rushed for more than 159 yards in any of its first seven games this season.

The Wonder Boys’ defense held Southeastern Oklahoma State to just 214 yards of total offense, the lowest total by an Arkansas Tech opponent since the Wonder Boys limited Southwest Baptist to 205 yards in the final game of last season.

And while the Arkansas Tech rushing attack and defense set new 2011 benchmarks, the play of the night might have come on special teams.

The Savage Storm (2-5, 1-4) had just taken a 16-14 lead on Don Brown’s 3-yard touchdown run with 12:43 to go in the third quarter when the ensuing kickoff landed in A.J. Whitmore’s arms at the Arkansas Tech 15-yard line.

He took the kickoff return up the right sideline, cut back to his left just past midfield and then raced for the end zone. Whitmore’s 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown — his second such return for a score this year — put the Wonder Boys in front for good.

Jorge Vazquez added the extra point and Tech led 21-16 with 12:26 to play in the third quarter.

Arkansas Tech’s defense made the lead stand up until Henderson’s touchdown run put it away for the Wonder Boys.

C.J. Kirk carried 19 times for 75 yards for Southeastern Oklahoma State. Jercolby Bradley, who came on in relief of SOSU starting quarterback Logan Turner on the first possession of the game, completed 10-of-16 passes for 107 yards.

Cody Jones made his first career start at quarterback for Arkansas Tech. He completed 4-of-7 passes for 20 yards before giving way to Preston Conder, who completed 6-of-10 passes for 93 yards. Conder’s 33-yard pass to Roger Jackson in the fourth quarter helped set up Henderson’s touchdown run. Jackson made five receptions for 77 yards.

Donnell Jones (8 tackles) and C.J. Cleveland (7 tackles) led Tech’s tackle chart.

The Wonder Boys will play their final home game of the season when they host East Central University (Okla.) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

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