MONTICELLO — Freshman kicker Jamie McGee set a school record for field goals in a single season and Arkansas-Monticello defeated Southern Nazarene 22-19 on Saturday for its fifth straight win at Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium.
“I feel good,” McGee said. “I knew I would have a couple of chances and I just took advantage of my chances.”
McGee tied the school record of 15 made field goals set by Kevin Craft in 1999 when he made a 42-yard field goal with 8:17 left in the first quarter. It tied the game at 3-3.
“For two years, we have struggled at that position,” UAM (5-3, 4-3 Great American Conference) head coach Hud Jackson said. “We are fortunate enough to have that young man here with us.
“I was excited for him.”
McGee hit his record-setting kick from 26 yards away with 1:50 left in the third quarter. It gave UAM a 10-point lead at 22-12.
“Nothing really changed,” McGee said. “I have the same mindset that I always have. It was just another kick.
“Afterwards, Coach Hud told me congratulations but other than that it was pretty much the same.”
The two-time GAC Special Teams Player of the Week is now 16-of-18 on field goals this season. He averages two made field goals a game, which leads the nation.
“He’s going to break a lot of records here and he will probably break the one he set here today again sometime,” Jackson said. “It feels good to cross the 35-yard line and send your field goal unit out there and feel confident that is going to be a plus.
“It was a great day for him.”
UAM rattled off 17 straight points in the first quarter to take a 14-point lead with 1:24 left in the opening quarter. Unfortunately, from there the Boll Weevils were never really able to find their groove.
“We did have some guys that did step up and did some things for us, but it was just one of those things where we couldn’t get going,” Jackson said. “We couldn’t get the push we needed.”
Southern Nazarene (0-8, 0-8 GAC) was within three points in the fourth quarter following a 1-yard touchdown run by Trey Knowles.
SNU had two more tries at either tying the game or taking the lead with 3:30 left in the fourth quarter. But a couple of good defensive stands by UAM kept the lead intact.
“I think the biggest thing was, they did a lot of things right,” Jackson said. “Guys being where they should be. I think we had a chance at two more interceptions.
“They played a tremendous game.”
UAM forced three interceptions in the game and had 11 tackles for loss. The Weevils also totaled eight sacks — a GAC conference record this season.
“Today we knew it was going to be on us,” senior defensive end Davis Stephens said. “We knew our offense was struggling a little bit and it was up to us to have their back, which we did.”
Stephens had five total tackles with 1 1/2 sacks.
“Coach (Keith) Scott told us that one game is going to be us and it was on us tonight,” Stephens said.
Before Saturday’s game, SNU had a turnover margin of -6 with 15 interceptions and six fumbles. Something Scott, the defensive coordinator for UAM, made sure to let his team know.
“That was our main goal was to force turnovers,” Stephens said. “That was excellent by Mike Early and Deshaun Thomas making big time plays for us.”
Alex Black also had an interception for UAM.
“That little quarterback that they had was very elusive, but I thought we did a great job of putting pressure on him and forcing mistakes,” Jackson said.
SNU quarterback Trey Hills finished 23-of-41 for 233 yards with one touchdown and the three interceptions.
“It is not about the individual, it is not about me, it is about everybody,” Stephens said. “… The offense is going to have their days and the defense is going to have their days.
“Sometimes the offense is going to pull us through and sometimes — like (Saturday) — it is going to be on the defense.”
UAM took their first lead of the game on a 18-yard touchdown pass from Cody Trimble to Ian Levine. It gave the Weevils a 10-3 lead with 3:02 left in the first quarter.
“We just felt like (Trimble) was doing what he needed to do,” Jackson said. “He is one of those guys who can get into the groove and take control of the offense.
“He gets done what’s needed to be done.”
Trimble, who got his first start of the season on Saturday, finished 20-of-25 for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“It is rewarding more than anything,” Trimble said of his start. “I’ve been working for this for a long time and I went through a lot of stuff to get there.
“But it is just not me, it is everybody around me that helped me get here. It is more rewarding than anything.”
It was the first time this season in which UAM only used one quarterback the whole night.
“The defense played a hell of a game and did what they needed to do when we weren’t playing up to par,” Trimble said.
Late in the first quarter, Ivory Washington returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown to give the Weevils a 17-3 lead.
UAM capped off its first half scoring when Anthony Hughes returned a blocked point after attempt to the end zone. It gave the Weevils a 19-9 lead with 3:49 left in the second quarter.
Dumas native Smith suspended
UAM junior and Dumas native Rod Smith was suspended earlier this week for violating team rules.
In seven games this season, Smith has 419 yards on 130 attempts with six touchdowns.
Jackson says he hopes Smith will return next week when the Weevils host nationally ranked Henderson State.
Freshman quarterback Brett Courville was also suspended. In five games, he has rushed for 155 yards on 30 carries with a touchdown. He is 6-of-18 for 81 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Spider bite sidelines Nixon
Before last week’s game against Lindenwood-Belleville, senior wide receiver Jamal Nixon was bitten by a brown recluse spider on his right leg near the side of his calf muscle.
He still managed to haul in nine catches for 120 yards and three touchdowns as the Weevils defeated LU-Belleville 41-27.
However, after a week of treatment, the bite has not gotten any better and it forced Nixon to miss Saturday’s game against Southern Nazarene.
After the game, Jackson said they are going to give him some antibiotics Saturday night and if nothing changes, Nixon will have to be admitted to the hospital.
“It is a big concern for us,” Jackson said. “His ankle is not even an issue anymore.”