Wonder Boys Seek First Victory Saturday

Arkansas Tech University will try to take down the most surprising 2-0 football team in the Great American Conference when the Wonder Boys face Oklahoma Baptist University on Saturday, Sept. 15.

Kickoff at Crain Stadium in Shawnee, Okla., is set for 1 p.m. Live coverage will be available on radio station KCJC 102.3 FM and www.arkansastechsports.com.

Oklahoma Baptist has opened the season by defeating East Central University 27-26 and Southeastern Oklahoma State University 34-28. It’s a dramatic reversal of fortune for a Bison program that was 6-27 over the last three seasons and was picked by league head coaches to finish tied for last in the GAC in 2018.

Sophomore quarterback Preston Haire and senior wide receiver Cagney Roberson have been key factors in Oklahoma Baptist’s fast start.

Haire is averaging 306.5 passing yards per game and completing 68 percent of his pass attempts. He leads the GAC in both of those categories. Roberson is the conference leader in receiving (9.5 receptions and 124.5 yards per game).

“(Oklahoma Baptist) has really improved on the offensive side of the ball,” said ATU head coach Raymond Monica. “The thing about it is (Haire) can throw it anywhere close and (Roberson) is going to make the play. He went up over the top of a bunch of people for a touchdown grab against Southeastern Oklahoma.”

Arkansas Tech (0-2) suffered a 38-31 overtime loss to Henderson State University last Saturday. The Wonder Boys were penalized 14 times for 119 yards.

“When you’re winning and making mistakes, they don’t hurt as bad,” said Monica. “You can correct them and go on. A mistake that costs you a game hurts a great deal. False starts and other penalties have really hurt us offensively. Last week we would get a good gain, and then get it called back. I want us to do a lot better job avoiding penalties.”

ATU sophomore quarterback Carter Burcham completed 20-of-45 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. Senior wide receiver Terrez Hampton made eight receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown against the Reddies.

Monica views field position as a key for his developing offense against Oklahoma Baptist.

“(Oklahoma Baptist) is keeping everything in front of them and forcing teams to make mistakes,” said Monica. “Their punt team did a really good job last week pinning (Southeastern Oklahoma State) inside the 20-yard line on several occasions. We can’t let that happen to us.”

Tech’s defense is led by senior linebacker K.J. Reid. He is averaging 12.5 tackles per game, third-most in the GAC.