Savage Storm Next Up for Wonder Boys

Arkansas Tech University will face one of the best defenses in NCAA Division II football when the Wonder Boys visit Southeastern Oklahoma State University on Saturday, Oct. 27.

The Wonder Boys (2-6) and the Savage Storm (5-3) will begin their 19th all-time meeting at 2 p.m. at Paul Laird Field in Durant, Okla. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and will provide live coverage.

Southeastern Oklahoma State ranks top 10 in the nation during the 2018 season in scoring defense (10th, 15.2 points allowed per game), total defense (7th, 244.4 yards allowed per game), pass defense (4th, 126.8 yards allowed per game), opponent’s third-down conversion rate (5th, 24.8 percent) and turnovers forced (7th, 20).

“They’re doing a very good job mixing up coverage, they’re playing very hard and they have a lot of good players on defense who are making plays,” said Raymond Monica, ATU head coach, when asked about the Savage Storm. “The turnover margin is a big deal. When you can get turnovers and get your offense back out there, that’s a big deal.”

The Savage Storm had won four consecutive games before a 20-17 loss at Henderson State University last Saturday. Southeastern Oklahoma State needs one victory in its final three games to clinch its fifth consecutive winning season.

The Wonder Boys have lost four consecutive games. Arkansas Tech was 1-of-4 in red zone scoring opportunities last week in a 35-14 loss to Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Tech ranks last in the GAC and 164th in NCAA Division II in red zone scoring efficiency.

“We have to get some points in some kind of way,” said Monica. “Obviously, we’d love to see a touchdown. If we get in field goal range, we have to try to kick another field goal. We work extremely hard here on extra points and field goals. The kicks haven’t gone through this year.”

ATU senior running back Bryan Allen leads the GAC in all-purpose yards (122.4 per game) and ranks third in the conference in rushing (82.6 yards per game). He has 3,372 career rushing yards, third-most in Tech history, with three games remaining in his collegiate career.

Allen needs 39 rushing yards to surpass Eddie Meador for second place among the Wonder Boys’ all-time rushing leaders and 232 rushing yards to break Larry Brown’s school record for most in a career.

Two senior Arkansas Tech defenders — rover Cua’ Rose and linebacker KJ Reid — are close to joining the Wonder Boys’ all-time leaders in tackles.

Rose has 277 career tackles, while Reid has 272. Only nine Arkansas Tech players have ever reached 280 career tackles.

A product of Texarkana, Reid leads the GAC and ranks second in NCAA Division II in tackles (13.2 per game) in 2018. He also has 4.5 quarterback sacks, second-most in the conference. A big finish during the final three weeks of the season could make him a candidate for GAC defensive player of the year.

“I think KJ has had a tremendous year,” said Monica. “He plays hard, is fundamentally sound and doesn’t miss too many tackles. He showed up as a true freshman and was on all the special teams. I remember one game he made just about every tackle on kickoff coverage. He’s a special player, and a special person. We’re sure going to miss him.”