Wonder Boys Host SWOSU Saturday

Arkansas Tech University will celebrate its 2018 Homecoming by hosting Southwestern Oklahoma State University for a 2 p.m. Great American Conference contest at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday, Oct. 20.

Party at the Plaza, the pre-game tailgating celebration outside the stadium on Centennial Plaza, will begin at 11 a.m. A free concert by ATU alumnus, former Wonder Boys football player and Show Dog Nashville recording artist Lance Carpenter will begin on the plaza at noon.

Game tickets ($10 adults/$5 senior citizens and students) will be available at the stadium ticket office during Party at the Plaza. Admission will be free for those with a valid ATU identification card.

The Wonder Boys (2-5) will look to snap a three-game losing streak. Turnovers have been their biggest obstacle to victory in recent weeks. Tech had a cumulative turnover margin of minus-9 during its last three games, and the Wonder Boys committed five turnovers in a 21-0 loss at Northwestern Oklahoma State University last Saturday.

“We gave up too many points early in the game,” said Raymond Monica, ATU head coach. “We gave up a touchdown right before half even though we had really good coverage on them. (NWOSU) made a good throw and catch. We’ve got to give credit to them, but the biggest thing was we’ve got to get the ball in the end zone when we get an opportunity to score points. We had the ball at the 2-yard line in the first half, and we had a touchdown called back on a penalty in the second half.

“It comes down to the turnover battle,” continued Monica. “It’s about who’s going to protect the football best and who is going to score touchdowns when they get the chance instead of trying to kick field goals. (SWOSU) has struggled kicking field goals just like we have this year.”

The Bulldogs (2-5) are also in the throes of a three-game losing streak. SWOSU dropped a 50-10 decision to nationally-ranked Harding University last weekend.

Southwestern Oklahoma State quarterback Casey Freeman ranks fifth in the GAC in passing this season (198.7 yards per game).

“(SWOSU) is running some option, so we’ve got to be ready to defend the dive, quarterback and pitch,” said Monica. “When the quarterback gets hot, he does a really good job. He did a great job against Henderson State going down the field and putting up a lot of points.”

Arkansas Tech features the second-leading rusher (senior Bryan Allen, 86.6 yards per game) and the leading tackler (senior KJ Reid, 13.4 tackles per game) in the GAC.

Allen will enter Saturday with 3,317 career rushing yards and four games remaining in his ATU career. He needs 94 rushing yards to surpass Eddie Meador (3,410 rushing yards, 1955-58) for second place among the Wonder Boys’ all-time leading rushers and 287 yards to eclipse the school record held by Larry Brown, who rushed for 3,603 yards from 1968-71.

Radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com will provide live coverage of the ATU-SWOSU game.