ARKADELPHIA — Following last week’s loss to Henderson State, the Arkansas-Monticello football team was upset. Not because they had lost but frustrated because they felt like they had a chance to knock off a nationally ranked team.
UAM gave up 24 points in the first quarter thanks to three interceptions on its first three possessions but won the next three quarters to lose by just 16.
Going into this week’s game against Ouachita Baptist, UAM felt confident they had a chance to win its first road game in almost three years due to their performance against Henderson State.
It comes as no surprise, then, that following Saturday’s 35-10 loss to OBU on Saturday at A.U. Williams Field, the mood of the Boll Weevils was a somber one.
“It is a bigger let down, this one hurts,” UAM head coach Hud Jackson said. “Coming off a game like we had against a team in the top five in the nation and basically lay an egg (this week).
“That can’t happen.”
UAM (5-5, 4-5 Great American Conference) started out strong — scoring on the game’s first possession to take a 7-0 lead. But OBU (7-2, 7-2) made its adjustments and the Weevils were never really able to find their groove again.
“We had to adjust a couple things we were doing,” OBU head coach Todd Knight said. “Just the speed of the game surprised us. Our scout team is nothing like Arkansas-Monticello.
“They are so much improved. Hud has done such a good job.”
On its opening possession, UAM drove 66 yards and capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Cody Trimble to Dumas native Rod Smith to take a 7-0 lead with 10:00 left in the first quarter.
“They just came out there and stuck it down our throat on that first drive,” Knight said.
UAM finished with just 148 yards of total offense.
“They made some good adjustments on us,” Jackson said. “We had problems moving the ball from that point.
“We made some bad decisions as far as throwing the ball and even when we made good throws, we didn’t make catches.
“We had a couple deep balls with guys open — you got to hit those. You got to take advantage when they give you that opportunity.”
OBU finished with 405 yards of offense including 344 yards on the ground. After a rib injury that kept him out of last week’s game against Southern Arkansas, junior running back Chris Rycraw returned this week and finished with 198 yards on 29 carries with one touchdown.
“It is nice to have him back,” Knight said. “When you have all three of your backs playing, it sure makes it a lot better.
“It takes the pressure off.”
OBU junior Steven Kehner finished with 11 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns. He scored on a 20-yard run in the first quarter to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:53 left. He scored again with 43 seconds left in the first half on a 22-yard run to give OBU a 21-10 lead right before halftime.
“I still think our defense played good enough for us to win,” Jackson said. “Our defense the last couple of weeks has played very hard.
“They have been put in some bad situations and have still played well.”
Keith Reynolds led the defense with 11 tackles including 10 solo tackles. Alex Black had nine total tackles and Mike Early led the team with two tackles for loss.
UAM gave up just one offensive touchdown in the second half — a 7-yard touchdown by Rycraw with 12:25 left in the fourth quarter.
“You can’t ask for much more than that,” Jackson said. “They played well. It was just a big let down.”
OBU’s only other score in the second half was a 45-yard punt return by Etauj Allen in the third quarter. It gave the Tigers a 28-10 lead and Allen finished with 107 yards on five returns.
“He is one of the best in the nation, and we got an opportunity to make plays against him, we just don’t make it,” Jackson said. “You can’t give guys like that with the ball in space.
“He hurt us too.”
UAM freshman kicker Jamie McGee hit a 24-yard field goal with 13:50 left in the second quarter to give the Weevils a 10-7 lead.
Trimble, who got the start once again, finished 9-of-19 for 67 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Nick Williams finished with 14 carries for 52 yards.
UAM will close out the season next week against Southern Arkansas in Magnolia.