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Miners, Wonder Boys Collide Thursday Night

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Arkansas Tech University will look for its first 2-0 start to a football season since 2009 when the Wonder Boys host the Missouri S&T Miners for a non-conference contest on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Kickoff for the Wonder Boys (1-0) and the Miners (1-0) is set for 7 p.m. at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.

Admission will be free for those with a valid Arkansas Tech identification card. It will be Pope County Night at the stadium. Fans showing a Pope County driver's license at the Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field ticket booth can gain admission at a discounted rate of $5 per person for them and their family.

Arkansas Tech and Missouri S&T both opened their 2012 season with non-conference wins last Saturday. The Wonder Boys received three field goals from Trevor Pinkston and a late interception by Jacob Midyett in a 16-14 victory over Bacone College. The Miners slogged through the remnants of Hurricane Isaac to throttle Oklahoma Panhandle State 55-14 in Rolla, Mo.

Missouri S&T returns 21 seniors and all five of its starting offensive linemen from a team that was 6-5 overall last season. The Miners are picked to finish third in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2012.

"They are a very solid team," said Arkansas Tech head coach Steve Mullins when asked about the Miners. "It is amazing when you look at the number of returning starters and the number of seniors on their team. We will definitely have our hands full. Missouri S&T is a defense built on speed, and they are going to pressure a bunch."

The Miners' defense is led by ends Freddy Dugard and Jimmy Barnhart, who combined for 22 tackles for a loss and 16 quarterback sacks in 2011.

Missouri S&T quarterback Josh Firm passed for 188 yards and three touchdowns in the Miners' season-opening win over Oklahoma Panhandle State. He threw just four interceptions in 288 pass attempts a year ago.

"He's a guy that will take a hit, but he will not take a sack," said Mullins when asked about Firm. "He gets the ball out of his hands, so it's going to be hard to create negative plays."

The Wonder Boys succeeded in avoiding negative plays of their own in the season opener. Arkansas Tech was turnover-free against Bacone, while the Warriors gave the football away twice.

Tech quarterback Tanner Marsh completed 28-of-37 passes for 319 yards in his Wonder Boys' debut. The transfer from West Texas A&M became the first Arkansas Tech quarterback to pass for 300 or more yards in a game since Nick Graziano threw for 432 yards against North Alabama in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Jonathan Keener led the Wonder Boys' receiving corps with four catches for 100 yards against Bacone. Logan Genz made a team-high 10 tackles for Tech.

Thursday will mark the sixth all-time meeting between Arkansas Tech and Missouri S&T (formerly known as Missouri-Rolla), but it will be their first meeting in 78 years.

The Wonder Boys defeated the Miners 6-0 in their most recent get-together, which was played in Rolla on Sept. 26, 1934.

Arkansas Tech has won all five of the previous games between the two programs. The combined score in those five contests, all of which occurred between 1922-34, was 88-0.

Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the call of the Tech-Missouri S&T game beginning with the pre-game show at 6:30 p.m.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Click here to learn more about Wonder Boys football.