MONTICELLO — Leading up to Saturday’s game, head coach Hud Jackson knew there was a good possibility there would be a weather delay in the game against Arkansas Tech.
“You knew it was coming, but I thought our kids were prepared for it,” Jackson said. “That just goes back to the maturity of this team. I was very proud of how they dealt with it.”
With 8:34 left in the third quarter and UAM facing a fourth-and-goal at the Tech 1-yard line, the game was put on hold due to lightning in the area, forcing both the players and fans to evacuate the stadium.
Following an almost two-hour weather delay, the Boll Weevils picked up right where they left off as running back Nick Williams punched in a 1-yard touchdown to take a 24-0 lead with 8:28 left in the third quarter.
UAM (3-2, 3-2 Great Amercian Conference) would go on to defeat Arkansas Tech (2-3, 2-2) 34-0 for its first shutout since last year’s season opener at home.
Jackson said he knew right away, he was going to go for it on the fourth down.
“We had a lot of momentum and that would have helped us out a whole bunch,” Jackson said. “It was a pretty quick decision.”
Plus, he said he had a lot of confidence in his defense.
“The way our defense was playing, that made the decision a little easier,” Jackson said.
Williams finished with 14 yards on six carries with two touchdowns.
The Weevils took a three-score lead in the second quarter thanks to Arkansas Tech’s second turnover of the game.
UAM’s DeMarcus Robinson intercepted a pass by Tech’s Luke Halpin and returned it 19-yards to the ATU 9-yard line with 30 seconds left in the first half.
Two plays later, backup quarterback Cody Trimble completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Austin Morgan and UAM took a 17-0 lead with 16 seconds left until halftime.
“We knew the key to beating them would be stopping the run,” Robinson said. “We also had to key on a couple of their receivers, but basically it came down to stopping the run.
“They had some big backs in the backfield.”
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.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Jackson thought the Weevils had a pretty good chance of getting the shutout.
“I thought our defense was playing really well and they put the other quarterback in and tried to run with him a little bit,” Jackson said. “Right now, I’m just so excited about our guys and how well they played.
“When our team gets a shutout, against a team that rushes as well as these guys do, it is big.”
UAM allowed just 178 yards of total offense. The defense recovered three fumbles and had one interception.
“For our defense, there is no greater feeling than that,” Jackson said. “It just does a lot for your confidence.”
Arkansas Tech nearly tied the game in the first quarter, but UAM’s Deshaun Thomas made a touchdown saving tackle forcing Tech’s Ketrich Harmon to fumble near the 7-yard line. The Weevils recovered the fumble to maintain their 7-0 lead.
Harmon had 19 carries for a quiet 117 yards.
UAM got on the board first by scoring on its opening drive. Dumas native Rod Smith capped off a 14-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to give the Weevils a 7-0 lead with 10:21 left in the first quarter.
“I’m feeling good,” Smith said. “We won, so I’m feeling good. The knicks and pains, it was all worth it.
“As long as we win, I’m feeling good.”
Smith finished the game with 32 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown.
“Basically, I’ve got to accept it because it keeps our offense going,” Smith said of his role. “It opens up so much more for our receivers and the rain kind of took that away from us today.
“In the long run, we know that is what is going to help us win games.”
UAM is back on the road next week as the Weevils face Harding University in Searcy. But then they have three straight home games including conference opponents Southern Nazarene and Henderson State.