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Tech, SNU Prepare for First-Ever Meeting

Image of Southern Nazarene is a newcomer to NCAA Division II and the GAC. The Crimson Storm, which previously competed at the NAIA level, announced its transition to NCAA Division II in November 2010. After going through a two-year transition period, Southern Nazarene is a provisional member of NCAA Division II and the GAC for the 2013-14 academic year. This fall marks the first time that the Crimson Storm is playing a full GAC football schedule and the first time that football games against SNU count in the GAC standings. Southern Nazarene has suffered setbacks at the hands of nationally ninth-ranked Henderson State University (82-10) and Ouachita Baptist University (49-24) during the first two weeks of the 2013 season, but Arkansas Tech head coach Raymond Monica has observed several signs of progress for the Crimson Storm after studying SNU on tape. “Offensively, (SNU) is doing a very good job of throwing and catching the football out of their spread offense,” said Monica. “They can do some things to hurt us if we don’t execute on defense. On the other side, they bring a lot of pressure with their 3-3 stack defense. Our offensive line has to do a good job of picking up stunts and twists in the running game as well as the passing game.” Arkansas Tech is looking to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a 28-17 defeat against Southwestern Oklahoma State University last Saturday in Russellville. Four Bulldog touchdown passes of 35 yards or longer lifted SWOSU to the victory and sole possession of first place in the GAC standings. “Every time we made a mistake on defense, they found the spot and converted it for touchdowns,” said Monica. “They got 28 points off four mental mistakes, but I thought overall the defense played extremely well. When you look at the tape, we can be so much better at the little things. “You either get better or you get worse every time you go out,” continued Monica. “We’ve had a chance to go back in practice and correct some of the mistakes that were made last week. I think we’ll be better in some of those areas this Saturday.” One area of particular strength for Arkansas Tech early in the 2013 season has been third-down conversions by its offense. The Wonder Boys have converted 57.6 percent of their third downs this season, which is best among the GAC teams that have played two games. Only two teams in all of NCAA Division II have a higher third-down conversion rate in 2013. Arkansas Tech quarterback Luke Halpin ranks fourth in the GAC in passing (286.0 yards per game) and total offense (296.5 yards per game). He is 13th in NCAA Division II in pass completions (28.5 per game). Saturday marks the first of three consecutive road games for the Wonder Boys. They will step out of league play for a game at NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision member Nicholls State University (La.) on Sept. 28 before visiting the University of Arkansas at Monticello in GAC action on Oct. 5. The next home game for Arkansas Tech will be on Oct. 12 against Southern Arkansas University. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m.]]>