Wicker’s goal-line leap falls short for Boll Weevils

RUSSELLVILLE — Quarterback Damon Wicker fumbled on a goal-line dive with 15 seconds remaining in regulation to give Arkansas Tech a 24-21 victory over the Arkansas-Monticello football team on Saturday at Thone Stadium.

The loss moves UAM to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in the Great American Conference, extending the team’s streak to seven consecutive losses.

On a third down and goal on the final drive, Wicker was forced to scramble, ran up the middle and leaped high in the air toward the end zone. The ball did not cross the goal line and was fumbled into the end zone, where ATU’s (5-3, 4-3 Great American Conference) Deandre Bonner recovered the ball to seal the Wonder Boy victory.

The first half scoring started at the end of the first drive of the contest, when ATU’s Donnel Jones blocked a Reagan Wise punt, which was recovered by ATU’s Will Farley at the UAM (1-7, 0-6) 16-yard line and returned for a touchdown.

That score was answered by 12-play, 77-yard UAM drive capped by a 35-yard touchdown screen pass from Wicker to Jamal Nixon at the 6:03 mark of the first quarter.

The Boll Weevils took the lead for the first time with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter on an 11-yard pass that was deflected into the hands of Ian Levine from Wicker to cap a 16-play, 72-yard drive that used 7:05.

ATU ended the first half scoring with a 19-yard field goal by Trevor Pinkston with 7 seconds on the clock before halftime.

The Boll Weevils outgained ATU 228-93 in the first half and held the ATU offense to more than 6 minutes of time of possession in the first 30 minutes. UAM rushed 24 times for 61 yards, while Wicker completed 17-of-21 passes in the first half for 167 yards.

After a scoreless third quarter, Arkansas Tech regained the lead for the first time since the blocked punt in the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run by Ketrich Harmon at the 9:49 mark of the final quarter to cap a 12-play, 79-yard drive that used 5:41.

UAM answered with the Wicker-Nixon connection once again, this time a 58-yard touchdown pass at the 6:33 mark to cap a six-play, 75-yard drive that used 3:09.

ATU took its final lead on a 15-yard touchdown scramble by quarterback Tanner Marsh with 2:15 remaining in regulation to cap a nine-play, 62-yard drive that used 4:07.

The Boll Weevils ended up outgaining the Wonder Boys in the contest 495-269 with 408 yards passing and 87 yards rushing on 83 total plays. UAM totaled 25 first downs in the loss and ended up 13-for-21 on third down conversions.

UAM ended the game with almost 20 more minutes in the time of possession category. ATU only led the possession time category in the final 15 minutes, where it outscored UAM 14-7.

UAM quarterback Damon Wicker posted his most efficient game of the season, completing 34-of-46 passes for 408 yards with three touchdown passes and only one interception. He also added 32 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Wicker’s favorite target in the loss was Jamal Nixon, who hauled in 14 receptions for 212 yards with two touchdowns.

ATU quarterback Tanner Marsh was 19-for-29 in the air for 192 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Marsh also led his team in rushing with 46 yards on 12 attempts.

Anthony Hughes paced the UAM defense with 11 total tackles, and hauled in his second interception of the season.

The Boll Weevils are back in action next Saturday at home against Southeastern Oklahoma State. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium.