The University of Arkansas at Monticello forced five turnovers and scored in every quarter in a 33-14 victory over Southwestern Oklahoma State on Saturday night at home.
The victory snaps a six-game losing streak for the Weevils (1-3, 1-3 Great American Conference) dating back to the final three weeks of the 2013 season, and comes on a day in which the University unveiled and dedicated a life-size bust of all-time winningest coach Tommy Barnes inside the lobby of the Indoor Practice Facility.
The Weevil defense picked off three SWOSU passes, two coming from senior Mike Early, including a 23-yard interception return for a touchdown to put UAM on top 16-7 late in the second quarter. UAM’s defense also forced three SWOSU fumbles, recovering two, including one recovered on a punt that hit a SWOSU player inside the 10-yard line. That fumble set up an eventual one-yard touchdown sweep from senior Ivory Washington to finalize the scoring with 3:54 remaining in the contest.
UAM’s third interception of the night came from senior Alex Black early in the fourth quarter to negate 13-play, 47-yard drive by the Bulldogs.
Also making headlines in the victory was sophomore kicker Jamie McGee, who made his 20th and 21st career field goals, including a 51-yarder with seven seconds remaining in the first half to put UAM on top 19-7 heading into the locker room. That 51-yarder is tied for the third longest field goal in UAM history, and breaks his previous individual record of 43. He made a 26-yard field goal to give UAM’s its first lead, 9-7 at the 12:44 mark of the second quarter.
Southwestern (2-2, 2-2 GAC) opened the scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run from Karl Hodge to cap a 10-play, 88-yard drive that used the first 3:49 of the contest. UAM answered with the first of senior Rod Smith’s two rushing touchdowns in the game, this one coming from four yards out to cap a 13-play, 88-yard drive that used 4:56.
McGee’s 26-yard field goal, Early’s pick-six and McGee’s 51-yard field goal were the next three scores, as UAM held SWOSU to only one score in the first half.
Smith opened the second-half scoring by busting loose up the middle for a 48-yard touchdown run on a three-play, 58-yard drive that used just 58 seconds. The Dumas, Arkansas native ended the game with a career-high 131 rushing yards on 21 carries for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
SWOSU got back on the scoreboard with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Matt Farris that capped an eight-play, 82-yard drive that used 2:57. That score cut UAM’s lead to 26-14.
The Weevils forced and recovered fumbles on SWOSU’s next two drives that eventually sealed the victory. The first of those fumbles came on a UAM punt that deflected off of SWOSU’s Ja’Vaughn Mitchell and recovered by UAM’s Byron Miller at the SWOSU three-yard line, setting up Ivory Washington’s lead-cushioning score.
Senior defensive end Louis Curry was responsible for the second fumble by punching the ball loose on a quarterback sack of SWOSU’s Klark Ashmore. Senior Chris Roberts recovered that fumble, and UAM ran out all but 14 seconds of the clock, leaving SWOSU no time to mount a comeback.
UAM finished the game with 347 yards of total offense to SWOSU’s 325. The Weevils balanced their offensive attack with 198 yards passing and 153 yards rushing. SWOSU ended the night with 230 rushing yards and just 95 yards through the air.
The Weevils look to carry their momentum into next Saturday’s road game against Arkansas Tech. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Thone Stadium in Russellville.
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