The University of Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils scored 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win their season opener against Arkansas Tech Saturday.
The Weevils (1-0, 0-1 GAC) kicked off the Hud Jackson era, getting a 38-31 win over the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys to open GAC play. The win snaps a five-game winning streak for Tech dating back to the 2001 season. Arkansas Tech (0-1, 0-1 GAC) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter. ATU quarterback James Landry found Sean Carraway for 15 yards to hang the first six on the board with 12:52 remaining in the quarter, capping a short field drive after the Weevils fumbled the opening kickoff. ATU took advantage of UAM’s second turnover on their second drive, driving 27 yards and allowing Trayshun King to waltz across the goal line with a one-yard run to put the Wonder Boys up a quick 14-0.
Royel Johnson got things going on the ensuing kickoff with a solid 22-yard return. After one quick incomplete pass to start the drive, the young freshman Hunter Leppert found Kenneth Robey open down field. The senior out of Charleston, Miss. got the Weevil faithful on their feet with a stunning 72-yard completion to get UAM on the board, 14-7, before the end of the quarter.
Tech took possession into the start of the second quarter, but was forced to settle for a field goal after a 12-play drive was capped by an illegal blocking penalty. Hayden Severs put Tech back up ten with a 27-yard kick.
Monticello continued to chip away from the early deficit, getting the field goal back with 7:41 remaining in the half. Ryan Crowley capped a 12-play 45-yard drive with a 31-yarder that pulled the Boll Weevils back to within a touchdown, 17-10.
Tech kept their foot on the gas, however, taking their next possession 65 yards down the defense’s collective throats to go back up 24-10. They then took the second half kickoff and began a ten-minute march down the field to tack on another seven, 31-10 with 10:09 remaining in the third quarter.
After the initial fireworks, the quarter settled into a groove with both teams punting twice and turning the ball over on downs once. Just as the over 3,600 Weevil fans in attendance began to worry that the hole was getting too deep to climb out of, the fourth quarter started.
The Weevil offense came alive in the final 15 minutes and the Wonder Boys were left wondering what happened. UAM rattled off four touchdowns in the fourth frame to storm back for the win.
The first touchdown of the quarter came with 11:47 remaining after driving the length of the field off five complete passes from Hunter Leppert to almost every receiver on the Weevil bench. It was finally Greg Taylor who caught the final 20-yarder from Leppert to put the score at 31-17.
Tech coughed up the ball on their next possession thanks to a heads-up play from Barry Boney, the redshirt freshman out of Dumas. Tavin Davis recovered the ball for the Weevils at the Tech 32, giving Leppert a short field with which to work. He completed a quick pass to Robey for seven yards before handing the ball off to senior Nakita Myles who found some space through the Tech line and took the ball 25 yards for the score, 31-24.
With the Weevils down by a single touchdown the defense stood up and got the Wonder Boys to go three-and-out on their next drive. Leppert again took the offense down the field , including a 12-yard pass to Myles on fourth-and-five that set up his pass that found D.J. Stephens two plays later.
Everyone in Convoy Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium thought the game was heading for a tie with just 5:23 remaining in the game, but Arkansas Tech had one trick left in the bag. Roland Dampeer got a good jump on the snap and got his hand in the way of Crowley’s extra point attempt, maintaining Tech’s lead by the slimmest of margins, 31-30.
The defense did not quit on the next series. They watched as Tech tried to slow the game to a crawl, running on each play to milk precious seconds off the game clock. The UAM defense stood them up at midfield finally forcing Preston Conder back into his passing game. The freshman Wonder Boy threw the ball right into the chest of UAM’s Justin Downs, giving the Weevils one last shot at the win from their own 45 yard line with just over two minutes to play.
A holding penalty on second-and-twelve seemed ready to stall the Weevils hopes for the comeback with the ball still hovering around midfield, but on fourth-and-fifteen from the 50-yardline Leppert found Robey all alone 33 yards downfield for the first down. After that two plays later Leppert connected with Stephens in the back of the end zone, sending the crowd into hysterics. With 35 seconds left on the clock the Weevils had erased a 21-point deficit in just 14 minutes and 25 seconds.
The Weevils will look to open the season 2-0 next weekend as they play host to Texas College for Family Appreciation Day at Convoy Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 6:00 P.M. Be sure to join Coach Jackson at the Hampton Inn this Monday, Labor Day, as he holds the second of his new weekly radio shows at 6:00 P.M. You can listen live on 93.7 KHBM or with a slight delay at UAMsports.com.
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