Tech Goes for Winning Record Saturday

One game — and one opportunity to clinch a winning overall record — remains for the 2012 Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys football team.

One game — and one opportunity to clinch a winning overall record — remains for the 2012 Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys football team. 
Arkansas Tech University will conclude its 98th football season by visiting the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders for a 2 p.m. Great American Conference game at Wilkins Stadium in Magnolia on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Radio station KWKK 100.9 FM will have the broadcast, which will also be available over the Internet.

The Wonder Boys (5-5 overall, 3-4 GAC) have experienced a broad spectrum of emotions this season.

They forced late turnovers to secure wins over Bacone College, Southwestern Oklahoma State and Arkansas-Monticello. They bounced back from 17-point deficits to defeat Southeastern Oklahoma State and Southwestern Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks.

Resilient is a word that head coach Steve Mullins has used to describe this group of Wonder Boys, which has come from behind in all five of its victories — including a 41-20 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State.

Arkansas Tech has felt the sting of one-sided losses to nationally-ranked Henderson State and Harding. These Wonder Boys also know the pain of narrow defeats at the hands of Missouri S&T, Ouachita Baptist and most recently East Central University, which got a 27-yard field goal from Brian Gonzalez at the final horn to defeat the Wonder Boys 33-30 last Saturday.
All of which circles back around to that term — resilient — and a chance for Arkansas Tech to define its football season this Saturday in Magnolia.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve communicated to the team this week is to have pride about yourself, character about yourself and finish,” said Mullins. “We have an opportunity to create another winning season. Last year we were 2-8. If we can go from two wins to six wins I think that is a big improvement, especially if you look at the core of the people that would be back for the 2013 season.”
Southern Arkansas (7-2, 5-2) is experiencing its best football season in almost a decade.
The Muleriders entered the NCAA Division II Super Region 3 rankings this week at No. 10. It marked the first time that Southern Arkansas has been regionally-ranked in football since 2003, when it finished 9-3 overall and advanced to the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
In the eight seasons from 2004-2011, the Muleriders only had one winning season and a cumulative overall record of 25-58. Before this season, Southern Arkansas had won three or fewer football games for six consecutive years.
The Muleriders’ resurgence in 2012 has been led by veteran quarterback Tyler Sykora, who as a junior already owns SAU career records for total offense (5,519 yards), passing yardage (5,628), completions (427) and touchdown passes (49).
Sykora is one of 17 upperclassmen among the Muleriders’ 22 starters on offense and defense combined.
“You can’t put a measurement on experience,” said Mullins. “You can practice and practice and practice, but it’s still not the same as going out there and experiencing it in a game. Outside of Henderson State, Southern Arkansas is the second-most veteran team in our conference this year. SAU’s quarterback is throwing the ball well and they are running the ball well, but to me the biggest improvement is they are playing better defense than they have in several years. They are very sound and they are sure tacklers. They do not beat themselves.”

Arkansas Tech is 43-28-4 all-time in football against Southern Arkansas. The series between the two schools dates back to 1916.

Learn more about Wonder Boys football.