Wonder Boys Face D-I Opponent Saturday

www.arkansastechsports.com. Great American Conference members have one open week on their football schedules this season. Some opted for a bye week and a 10-game regular season. Others, like Arkansas Tech, scheduled a non-conference game to fill out the 11-week schedule. With Oklahoma Baptist University set to join the GAC as a provisional member in 2015, that open week on the schedule will disappear. League members will play a full 11-game football schedule against exclusively Great American Conference members starting next season. This is the second consecutive year that Arkansas Tech has played a non-conference game against a member of the NCAA Division I Southland Conference. In 2013, the Wonder Boys were within three points of Nicholls State University in the final seven minutes before a late touchdown run allowed the Colonels to hang on for a 44-34 victory in Thibodaux, La. This season’s trip to Louisiana presents Arkansas Tech with an even greater challenge. McNeese State is ranked No. 4 in the NCAA Division I FCS national coaches’ poll. The Cowboys’ only loss was a 31-24 setback at the University of Nebraska on Sept. 6. The Cornhuskers needed a 58-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds remaining to defeat McNeese State and bring relief to most of the 91,082 fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. Since then, the Cowboys have defeated Prairie View A&M University 48-16 on Sept. 13 and enjoyed a bye week on Sept. 20 in advance of the Wonder Boys’ visit to Lake Charles. McNeese State is picked to finish second in the Southland Conference in 2014. “They have a lot of speed,” said Arkansas Tech head coach Raymond Monica when asked about McNeese State. “The speed, and the size of the people with that speed, is the biggest difference when you play on another level. We’ve been watching McNeese and Nebraska on film all week, and the hope is our guys watch that and see the type of effort you have to give on each and every play in order to be a championship team.” Arkansas Tech is coming off a 34-14 home win over Southern Nazarene University last Saturday. The Wonder Boys limited the Crimson Storm to 144 yards of total offense and forced SNU into seven turnovers as Arkansas Tech improved to 2-0 at home this season. Tech received a touchdown from its special teams — a 94-yard kickoff return by Michael Perry — and a touchdown from its defense — a 46-yard interception return by Logan Genz — to help put the game away in the second half. The Wonder Boys’ offense continued to show improvement. Quarterback Dennis Robertson had his highest completion percentage of the season (17-of-29, 59 percent) and his 169 passing yards were distributed over nine different receivers. “I’ve seen us take another step forward offensively in practice this week,” said Monica. “We did a good job in the two-minute drill during practice on Tuesday. Each week we are taking steps, it’s just that you want bigger steps at this point in time.” After its visit to McNeese State, Arkansas Tech will return home to host the University of Arkansas at Monticello for a GAC game on Saturday, Oct. 4. Kickoff at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville is scheduled for 6 p.m. Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will begin at 3 p.m. on Oct. 4.]]>