EL DORADO- After back-to-back wins, first on the road against Southern Nazarene topping the Crimson Storm 51-41, and then a back and forth 38-35 heated battle at home against Oklahoma Baptist, that highlighted the Wonder Boys refusal to fold; Tech traveled to southern Arkansas to El Dorado to the Murphy USA Classic and to face off against the Southern Arkansas Muleriders.
Routine errors would aid in the 34-17 road loss, but the true downfall of the Tech offense would be the loss of quarterback Jack Lindsey.
In the prior two weeks the Wonder Boys had rallied behind Lindsey who was a pivotal part in the Tech air assault. This assault helped the Wonder Boys jump out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter scoring on their two first drives, first with a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped off with a 2-yard rush from Caleb Batie; on their following offensive drive the Wonder Boys pulled a 8-play, 53-yard drive ending with a wildcat dive one yards from Kyren Harrison for six.
The Wonders Boys were rolling down the field to put a third touchdown in the books on their third drive, but a high snap led to a scoop-and-score 60-yard touchdown for the Muleriders giving SAU their first points of the game.
“We had our chance to go up 21-0,” head coach Kyle Shipp said. “I really feel like if that would have happened SAU would have shut it down. [After] we just never could get the momentum back.”
After a four-and-out the Wonder Boys were forced to punt, but the punt was miss handled by SAU giving the Wonder Boys a second shot at jumping back up 14-points. The Wonder Boy offence would come up short with the shortened field and a rare miss for Jesus Zizumbo kept the score locked 14-7 at the end of the first half.
Both teams would trade possessions to start the second quarter, but on Tech’s second drive of the quarter Lindsey would go down with an injury to his non-throwing shoulder after a hit from SAU middle linebacker Brock Floyd awkwardly spun Lindsey to the ground.
With only a quarter and some change played Lindsey had already picked up 110-yards, as Freshman Cade Yeager came in to replace Lindsey. Yeager would finish out the first half behind center as SAU tacked on one extra touchdown before the half to bring the score to the break 14-14.
SAU would take the lead on the first possession of the second half knocking down a 38-yard field goal.
On Tech’s first drive of the half, the Wonder Boys would be held after Yeager threw back-to-back incomplete passes to Freshman tight end Mason Ross. On the Tech punt however, the kick would be blocked and returned for a Mulerider touchdown extending the lead to 10-points 24-14.
Yeager would not return as Arkansas-Monticello Junior transfer Caleb Canady would come in to head the Tech offense. Yeager would leave the game completing 9 of 16 passes for 50-yards but struggled escaping pressure as he was sacked 4 times.
Without their starting quarterback, Tech’s offensive struggles would become more apparent as the game continued.
SAU added another touchdown to the mix with 7:30 left in the third following a 4-play, 63-yard drive making the score 31-14.
Tech found success on the ground with 4:10 left in the third as the Wonder Boys rumbled the ball down field where Zizumbo would find his redemption with a 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter giving the Wonder Boys their first scoring drive since their second possession of the game.
The fourth quarter would be wrapped up with SAU knocking in one more 24-yard field goal with 57 seconds left in the game which would bring the final score 34-17 SAU.
Tech heads into homecoming 2-5 on the season they will be facing the Henderson State Reddies who took their first loss to Harding this past weekend. The Reddies are coming in with 72-points off turnovers this season and 3384 all-purpose yards. Lindsey is listed on the roster but is still questionable and a decision will be made at game time.
“We have to do a better job at protecting our [running backs] so they can execute,” Shipp said. “If we can get those things cleaned up, those guys can just ball. Defensively I thought we played well, we gave them 14-points off a punt return and the high snap and then only lost by 17 so it was a game changer. Henderson is a really good team who is averaging 44-points a game, to get to them they’re defensively sound defensively so you have to have a very patient offense. Same thing defensively, we have to take away their big plays.”
“Guys just have to do their job, if we do that, we will have a chance every week,” Shipp said.