Arkansas Tech University will try to do something on Saturday, Oct. 1, that 24 consecutive teams have failed to do — win a home game against Henderson State University.
The Wonder Boys (2-2) and the nationally seventh-ranked Reddies (4-0) will begin their 89th all-time meeting at 6 p.m. Saturday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.
It will be Family Day at Arkansas Tech. Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will start at 3 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 receive free admission.
Henderson State’s 24-game road winning streak is tied with Minnesota State University for the longest such active streak in NCAA Division II football. The Reddies, champions of the Great American Conference in 2012, 2013 and 2015, are 44-4 overall in GAC games since the league began competition in 2011.
“On the field, what Henderson State does is similar each and every year,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Raymond Monica. “They’ve got their system in place and they’re doing a good job recruiting. To me, last year and this year to this point, it’s about their defense. They are holding people down.”
The Reddies rank No. 2 in the GAC in scoring defense (14.5 points allowed per game) and total defense (315.8 yards allowed per game). HSU leads the conference in quarterback sacks (14).
Monica said that winning one-on-one competitions along the line of scrimmage will be paramount for the Wonder Boys in protecting the quarterback.
“It all comes down to match-ups,” said Monica. “We have to avoid third-and-long. We need positive yards on first and second downs so we don’t become one-dimensional.”
It is anticipated that the Arkansas Tech quarterback trying to avoid the Reddie pass rush will be junior Jabyes Cross of Riviera Beach, Fla. Cross came on in relief of injured starting quarterback Ty Reasnor in the first quarter of the Wonder Boys’ 28-21 loss at Southern Arkansas University last Saturday.
Cross ran 13 times for 68 yards and completed 7-of-16 passes for 77 yards against the Muleriders.
“I thought Jabyes did a good job making some yards with his feet,” said Monica. “He had some scrambles that wound up being good runs for us. He threw the football better than I expected, and he’s continued to do a good job of that in practice this week.”
Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will have live coverage of the Arkansas Tech-HSU game.