ADA, Okla. – The Arkansas-Monticello football team came back to within three points at the end of the third quarter, but the East Central Tigers reeled off 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for a 31-17 win over the Boll Weevils on Saturday at Norris Field.
After forcing ECU (2-2, 1-1 Great American Conference) to punt with 12:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, UAM (1-3, 0-2 GAC) had a chance to take a lead for the first time of the game. But Damon Wicker threw an interception on the first play of the drive, and that set up the Tigers offense’ with a first down at the UAM 20-yard line. The Tigers went up 26-17 three players later on a 10-yard touchdown rush by Titus Mobley, but missed extra-point attempt.
With 7:06 remaining in the game, UAM had another chance to trim the deficit, but was forced to start the drive from its own 4. After only 8 yards gained on the first three downs, a high snap forced UAM punter Reagan Wise to kick the ball out the back end zone to give ECU a safety.
The Tigers added their final score on the ensuing drive with 34-yard field goal from Brian Gonzalez with 3:12 remaining.
After gaining two first downs on the next drive, UAM turned the ball back over to ECU on downs. The Tigers then ran out the clock to seal the victory.
The Tigers opened the game’s scoring on a 1-yard run by Chad Winbush with 10:19 remaining in the opening quarter to cap a 10-play, 65-yard drive.
Wise answered with 7:52 remaining in the first quarter with 31-yard field goal after the Boll Weevils went 67 yards on five plays. ECU controlled the second quarter with a 40-yard field goal by Gonzalez and a 24-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Bond to Caleb Holley.
UAM opened the second half scoring with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Damon Wicker to sophomore Skyler Scott with 7:36 remaining in the third quarter. That touchdown was followed by a missed extra point to give ECU a 17-9 lead.
ECU’s Gonzalez was called on again for the next score, nailing a 43-yard field goal with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter to put the Tigers up 20-9.
The Wicker-Scott connection was dialed up again with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter, this time a 2-yard pass to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Wicker found Ian Levine in the end zone on a slant pattern for a successful two-point conversion to trim the deficit to just three points at 20-17 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Wicker finished the contest 14-of-27 through the air for 213 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Redshirt freshman quarterback Hunter Leppert, who did not play the second half due to injury, was 7-of-14 through the air in the first half for 51 yards with one interception.
UAM’s Malik Matthews led all receivers in the game with a total of 162 yards on just five catches.
Defensively, senior Marcus McIlwain and sophomore Anthony Hughes tied for the game-high with 13 tackles each. Hughes added an interception to his performance, which he returned 66 yards as time expired in the first half. McIlwain was credited with 1.5 tackles for a loss and a half of a sack.
The Boll Weevils are back at home next Saturday against Southern Arkansas for the Battle of the Timberlands, with the winner taking home a newly created traveling trophy. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium.