Wonder Boys Face Final Road Test Saturday

East Central University’s Norris Field proved to be the final resting place for Arkansas Tech University’s 2015 Great American Conference football championship hopes.

The Wonder Boys (6-2 overall, 6-2 GAC) will return to Ada, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 28, with the 2017 GAC title in their reach and knowledge that now is not the time to look past anyone.

“Like I’ve talked to our guys all week…respect your opponent,” said Tech head coach Raymond Monica. “Get yourself ready to play, and let’s try to go 1-0.”

ATU and ECU (2-6, 2-6) will begin their 20th all-time meeting at 4 p.m. Saturday. Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage.

Arkansas Tech dropped a 20-19 decision at East Central on Oct. 17, 2015. An interception at the Tigers’ 5-yard line with 28 seconds remaining ended a Wonder Boys’ scoring threat and their pursuit of Tech’s first football conference title since 1999.

Two years later, Arkansas Tech has an even better chance to bring home a GAC trophy.

The Wonder Boys are part of a four-way tie for first place in the league standings with three weeks remaining in the regular season. Ouachita Baptist University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Southern Arkansas University are also 6-2 overall and 6-2 in the GAC.

Saturday will mark the final road trip of the regular season for Arkansas Tech, which will return to Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville to host Southeastern Oklahoma State (Saturday, Nov. 4) and Harding University (Saturday, Nov. 11). Both games will begin at 2 p.m.

A successful journey to Ada might hinge upon the Wonder Boys’ ability to contain the leading rusher in the GAC. East Central freshman Ontario Douglas is averaging 100.8 rushing yards per game.

“I’m very impressed with (Douglas),” said Monica. “He runs extremely hard. Anytime you have a running back who runs as hard as he does, it can open up some things with play action in the passing game. I know in this game we’re going to have to do a great job defensively. We’ve got a lot of challenges this week.”

Arkansas Tech’s offense has proven to be a challenge few defenses have been able to overcome.

The Wonder Boys lead the GAC and rank eighth in NCAA Division II in scoring offense at 43 points per game. The school record for scoring offense was established by the 2009 Arkansas Tech team, which averaged 40.8 points per game and reached the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

ATU senior quarterback Ty Reasnor is third in the conference in passing (209.9 yards per game), while junior running back Bryan Allen (72.1 rushing yards per game) leads a Wonder Boys’ ground game that averages 232.5 yards per contest.

“I think our offense has been able to run it and throw it,” said Monica. “I can’t sit here and say we have to run the football. Ty has been doing a good job pushing the ball down the field, mixing up some play action and doing some different things.”

East Central is 11-8 all-time against Arkansas Tech. The Wonder Boys are 1-4 in their last five trips to Ada, and they have only walked off Norris Field a winner one time since 1929. Tech defeated the Tigers 55-14 in Russellville last season.