MONTICELLO — With two games left this season, the Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils are eyeing their first winning season since 2008 when the team finished with a 7-4 record.
Unfortunately for the Weevils, their final two games are on the road beginning with today’s contest against Ouachita Baptist (6-2, 6-2 Great American Conference) in Arkadelphia beginning at 1 p.m. at A.U. Williams Field.
UAM (5-4, 4-4) has not won a road game since head coach Hud Jackson took over the program prior to the 2011 season.
“I don’t talk about it much,” Jackson said of the team’s road blues. “But they’ve put it on themselves now.
“They understand it. It is a huge obstacle and we have to overcome that. It doesn’t get any easier.”
OBU is coming off a 31-23 setback against Southern Arkansas, which their starting running back Chris Rycraw missed. Rycraw, a Bryant native, is scheduled to return this week and he currently leads the team with an average of 94.6 rushing yards per game.
So far this season, Rycraw has 662 yards on 127 carries with 11 touchdowns.
“It seems like you are always going to face a great running back and a great defensive end in this conference,” Jackson said. “And they have two really good ones.”
OBU senior Antwion Patterson is averaging one sack per game, which ranks first in the GAC and 10th in Division II. He has seven solo sacks and two assisted sacks through eight games.
Also in the backfield for the Tigers is junior Steven Kehner, who rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Southern Arkansas.
“We have to find a way to get it done,” Jackson said. “We have to play a very good football game (today) to have that chance.”
Last week, UAM lost 37-21 to Henderson State after giving up 24 points in the first quarter and throwing three interceptions on its first three possessions, including HSU’s Gary Vines 69-yard interception return for a touchdown.
UAM turned the ball over five times — all interceptions — in the 16-point loss. Starting quarterback Cody Trimble was 23-of-41 with 182 yards and three interceptions. Backup quarterback Colton Morrison was 3-of-9 with two interceptions.
“The turnovers controlled the huge part of the outcome,” Jackson said of last week.
UAM has lost its top spot in the league in turnover margin, but still ranks second with an average of 0.7 turnovers gained per game and a plus-6 margin overall this season. The Weevils lead the GAC and rank 18th in the nation with a total of 24 turnovers gained through nine games of the season.
The last time UAM turned the ball over five times was in the season opener at East Central (Okla.), a game which the Weevils lost 46-22.
“There are a lot of challenges that we will have to overcome,” Jackson said. “We are going to have to play mistake free football to play these guys.”
Jackson said it is important to convert third downs and red zone opportunities, as well as win the turnover margin.
“Besides those aspects, we have to do something extra ordinary,” Jackson said. “It has to be something big. Like a big field goal, a pick-six or a big touchdown pass.
“Something big has to happen along with those other aspects for us to have a chance.”
Trimble is still expected to start this week despite his rough outing a week ago.
“The thing about being a quarterback in high school or college is you have to have a short-term memory,” Jackson said. “He just has to forget about it and move on and do something better this week.”
Williams takes the lead
UAM sophomore Nick Williams has established himself as the Weevil’s primary running back after he scored two touchdowns in last week’s loss to Henderson State in the home finale.
“I put my faith in my offensive lineman,” Williams said after the game. “I knew I had to put in that extra effort tonight. And I just followed through and kept on grinding.
“I had to put all my trust in my offensive line because without them it wouldn’t be possible.”
Williams finished with 90 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. In eight games this season, Williams has 77 carries with 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Dumas native Rod Smith currently leads the team with 452 yards on 140 carries and six touchdowns. Smith missed the game against Southern Nazarene due to a suspension; and in last week’s game, Smith had just 33 yards on 10 carries.