Reddies, Wonder Boys Meet Saturday Night

Arkansas Tech will face the task of slowing down one of the top offenses in NCAA Division II football when the Henderson State Reddies roll into Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday.

Kickoff for the 85th meeting between the Wonder Boys (1-1) and the Reddies (2-0) is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will begin at 3 p.m. Game tickets will be available at the Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field ticket office. It will be Family Day on the Arkansas Tech campus and the 2012 Great American Conference opener for both teams.  

Henderson State was the preseason favorite to win the 2012 GAC championship, and the Reddies’ first two outings of the season have given credence to those lofty expectations.

HSU defeated Southern Nazarene University 63-21 in Arkadelphia on Aug. 29 before going on the road last Saturday to defeat McKendree University 47-24.

Through two weeks, the Reddies rank among the top five teams at the NCAA Division II level in passing offense (4th, 429.5 yards per game) and scoring offense (5th, 55 points per game).

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Rodgers established a new Henderson State school record when he threw seven touchdown passes at McKendree. Rodgers, the reigning NCAA Division II national offensive player of the week, ranks sixth in NCAA Division II in total offense (399 yards per game).

“(Rodgers) has not been sacked through the first two games,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Steve Mullins. “They’ve had a couple of sacks when the second-team players have come in, but the starting quarterback has not been touched. He gets rid of the ball quickly. They love to run all types of screen passes, they’ll operate from a three-step drop and then they will also throw the deep ball. Very rarely do they make a mistake.

“They’ve got a couple of great receivers,” continued Mullins. “Robert Jordan outruns everyone on the field. He’s so good that even when he’s double-covered, he’s not really covered. Labroderick Barnett is a great receiver, too, and the offensive line is a veteran group. One of the reasons Henderson State is favored this year is because they return 19 starters from last season.”

Arkansas Tech was turnover-free in a 16-14 season-opening win over Bacone College on Sept. 1, but five turnovers five days later against Missouri S&T sent the Wonder Boys to a 27-19 loss.

After a long week to prepare for the GAC opener, Mullins is hopeful that his team will do a better job of protecting the football this Saturday.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, if you have five turnovers you aren’t going to win,” said Mullins. “It’s just that simple. We have to continue to do a good job in pass protection, make our quarterback comfortable and have our receivers execute the correct routes.”

Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast of the Arkansas Tech-Henderson State game.

Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcast.

Click here to learn more about Wonder Boys football.