WEATHERFORD– The Wonder Boys (3-6) traveled to South Western Oklahoma State (0-9) to face the Bulldogs. The almost five-hour road trip to ASPA Energy Field, which was also lively celebrating Bulldog homecoming weekend, capped off with a 15-14 Wonder Boy’s road win, their third win against GAC Oklahoma schools this season.
Sam Strasner, Director of university Relations, does radio play-by-play for the Wonder Boys. He summed up the game with “It is better to win ugly than to lose pretty.”
Tech received the opening kickoff, but three false starts held the Wonder Boys up, forcing a three-and-out, giving the ball over to the Bulldogs.
“[Tech has] had some personnel changes along the offensive line the last couple of weeks,” Strasner said. “[These changes] have caused a domino effect elsewhere on the line. It is possible that contributed to what we saw on Saturday, and that was the first time these false starts were an issue.”
The Bulldogs would roll downfield down to the Tech 15-yard line when Tech defensive back Darryn Cain forced a fumble, giving the ball to the Wonder Boys.
Tech took control of the ball, starting on their own 13 with 7:13 left in the first quarter. Tech took the ball down to the SWOSU 48 before facing a fourth-and-15 when Aaron Winn punt pinned the Bulldogs down on their 10-yard line.
SWOSU would construct a seven-play, 90-yard drive for the game’s first touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.
Heading into the second quarter, Tech looked to regain some momentum. The Wonder Boys would take a trip back into Bulldog territory but was forced back into a fourth-and-long, giving kicker Jesus Zizumbo the chance at a 44-yard field goal which had the distance but came up wide right.
Zizumbo would not let the missing phase come back after the Wonder Boy defense forced the Bulldogs four-and-out. Tech responded with an 11 play, 48-yard drive capped with a 44-yard field goal by Zizumbo, giving the Wonder Boys their first points of the game and making the score 7-3 with 4:31 left halftime.
7-3 would be the score into the halftime break.
Tech held SWOSU on the first drive of the second half on three plays getting the ball back on the Tech 49-yard line. Tech would make it down to SWOSU 6, but the Bulldog line would hold the Wonder Boys out of the endzone forcing Zizumbo to come in again and knock in a 24-yard field goal, making the score 7-6.
SWOSU would find success charging downfield to the Tech endzone, but the touchdown would be nullified by a holding penalty forcing the Bulldogs to attempt a field goal, which they would miss, leaving 6:48 left in the third quarter.
The game would shift on the next Bulldog drive. SWOSU would find the endzone, and after the play, a scrum would break out in the endzone as both teams headed out onto the field. After a moment of chaos and confusion, two Tech players and a Bulldog player would disqualify themselves from the game. Trying to get an explanation from the referee, crew head coach Kyle Shipp would pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. After the messy touchdown, the Bulldogs would move ahead 14-6 with 1:39 left in the quarter.
The 15-yards from the unsportsmanlike penalty would be made upon the kickoff as the Bulldogs picked up one of their own.
Tech would start on their 40-yard line but would head backward as Shipp would be flagged again for unsportsmanlike conduct, causing him to be ejected himself.
Tech’s drive would continue into the fourth quarter but would come up short of points, punting the ball away as Winn pinned the Bulldogs yet again inside their own 10.
Both teams would trade a possession, and the Wonder Boy defense would hold the Bulldogs a second time, stopping the Bulldogs with 11:40 left to play.
The Wonder Boys would push their way forward behind a run from fullback Ron Thompson. Tech quarterback Caleb Canady came in for starting quarterback Jack Lindsey who went down in the third quarter. He would connect with tight end Mason Ross for a 21-yard touchdown bringing the score within 2-points 14-12. Tech would attempt a 2-point conversion but would not be successful, leaving 4:37 left for the Bulldog offense.
The Wonder Boy defense would hold their line yet again, giving up just 90-seconds off the play clock after forcing the Bulldogs off the field three-and-out.
Tech would take over with 2:59 left on the clock and be back up on the Tech 18-yard line. Tech called upon Thompson to start their drive off strong, rushing the ball to midfield before taking a timeout with 1:50 left.
Canady once again would connect with Ross, this time for a 29-yard pickup putting the Wonder Boys deep into Bulldog ground.
“Speed is the main attribute Mason Ross has going for him,” Strasner said. “Early in the season, the Wonder Boys’ offense had difficulty stretching the field. The emergence of Ross and fellow freshman Joyrion Chase at wide receiver has been one of the highlights of this season, and they will play a major role in the team’s success in years to come,” Strasner said.
With 8-seconds left on the clock and on the SWOSU 19, the Wonder Boys would turn to kicker Zizumbo to clinch a lead and possibly seal the deal for Tech. Zizumbo would line up for a 36-yard attempt knocking the ball through, giving the Wonder Boys the 15-14 lead.
“Jesus is on his way to one of the best careers by a placekicker in Arkansas Tech history,” Strasner said. “That is a significant achievement when you consider the legacy of Craig Williams, Kelly Davis, Piotr Styczen, Paul Peletz, Eric Perez, and others. He now has 28 careers made field goals, which is fifth-most in ATU history.”
The Bulldogs would attempt to set up a drive, but after the Tech secondary would not allow a deep open pass, the Bulldogs would settle for a short pass which would be corralled before getting out of bounds as time expired.
“The most impressive aspect of Saturday’s game was the way the team reacted after quarterback Jack Lindsey was lost to injury. Under similar circumstances two weeks earlier against Southern Arkansas, it felt like the Wonder Boys were unable to recover from the loss of their leader mentally,” Strasner said.
“At Southwestern Oklahoma State, it seemed like they decided to come together and win it for Lindsey and themselves. That ability to overcome adversity is a trademark of every winning program, and Saturday was a step toward building that characteristic within Arkansas Tech football. The team will be able to draw upon that experience for the remainder of this season and in the years to come.”