MONTICELLO — In the fourth quarter of last week’s game against Arkansas Tech, the Arkansas-Monticello defense made two key stops that kept the team’s first shutout in over a year in tact.
Following a three-and-out by UAM with less than seven minutes left in the game, Arkansas Tech had a first down at its own 43-yard line and proceeded to drive down the field — looking to get on the board for the first time.
Led by backup quarterback Justin Owens — who had runs of 13 and 14 yards — Arkansas Tech had a first down at the UAM 14-yard line. But that’s when UAM’s defense “knuckled-up” and made four good stops to prevent the Wonder Boys from reaching the end zone.
“That gave us a bigger spark than anything,” senior defensive tackle Calvin Ursin said. “They were just driving on us and we just had to knuckle up and play hard.”
With a second-and-5 on the UAM 9, Arkansas Tech rushed for a 1-yard gain, threw an incomplete pass and rushed again for another 1-yard gain. They would turn the ball over on downs and UAM would take over with 2:52 left in the game.
“The game of football can just switch at anytime,” Ursin said. “We just kept focusing. … We knew we were going to get this shutout, so we just kept going out there and playing as hard as we can.
“A shutout was inevitable.”
UAM went three-and-out again and had to punt it back to Arkansas Tech with less than a minute left in the game. But a sack by UAM’s Davis Stephens and Samel McClain forced a second-and-13 for ATU. Ownes threw three incomplete passes to turn the ball back over to the Weevils.
“(A shutout) is always a motivation coming in as a defense,” Ursin said. “As the game went on, our confidence just kept building and our offense was moving the ball well.
“We took their will away.”
UAM defeated Arkansas Tech 34-0 to remain undefeated at home this season. It was the team’s first shutout since last year’s season opener.
Ursin finished the game with 10 total tackles, including six solo. He also had two tackles for a loss and recovered a fumble. UAM forced three fumbles and an interception in the win. The Weevils turned three of those turnovers into touchdowns.
“That’s always a confidence builder for a defense,” Ursin said. “Because it makes us want to go out there and get more turnovers.
“If you see your offense capitalize on turnovers, why not get more, it is just more points for us.”
Not since a 17-0 victory over Mississippi College in 1995, has UAM shutout a conference opponent. The two teams played in the Gulf South Conference at the time.
Courville takes over second half
After a near two-hour weather delay, UAM freshman quarterback Brett Courville was asked to take over the helm of the offense.
Courville, who has been an option for the Weevils since Week 2, was the best option for the offense as the rain had taken away any need for the passing game.
“That’s exactly why I finished up on the field,” Courville said. “Because the ball was slippery and coach told me to just make sure you hold on to the football, no matter what you do.”
UAM starting quarterback Colton Morrison and back-up Cody Trimble split the first half but the rain and the large lead prevented any need for their throwing ability.
“They knew we were going to run the football, so they put me in for the whole second half,” Courville said.
With Courville at the helm, UAM managed to score three times in the second half. Jamie McGee kicked a 30-yard field goal with 4:17 left in the third and Nick Williams scored his second touchdown of the game with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter. Williams also scored on a 1-yard touchdown dive following the delay.
“That big lead definitely helped out a lot,” Courville said. “I knew what I was going out there to do.
“We were basically trying to run the clock out and we got a lot of yards out of it and we scored a touchdown.”
Return to Searcy
UAM sophomore wide receiver B.J. Slaughter will make his first return to his hometown on Saturday since joining the Boll Weevils in 2011.
Slaughter was a three year letter-winner for coach Tim Harper at Searcy High School.
So far this season, Slaughter has just two catches for 13 yards. Both of those came in the season opener against East Central.
Record day for Smith
Dumas native Rod Smith because UAM’s first 100-yard rusher this season and was the first Boll Weevil with at least 30 carries in a game since 2008 with 32 carries for 106 yards in the win over ATU.