University of Arkansas at Monticello quarterback Cole Sears sealed the deal against the #24 Arkansas Tech University Wonder Boys when he scampered into the end zone for a 10 yard rushing touchdown with a little under two minutes in the fourth. The UAM Boll Weevils would go on to win 46-45 in another Great American Conference clash at Monticello Saturday.
According to Boll Weevils Head Coach Hud Jackson, his guys were confident that they could get it done.
“Obviously we were very excited to get a big win like that,” Jackson said. “We knew it would be a challenge heading in, but we felt if we played with consistency, we have as good as a chance as anybody to win.”
Both teams were lighting it up offensively in the first half, combining for six touchdowns and a field goal, and UAM held a one point lead at halftime. In the third quarter they traded touchdowns, but UAM also added another Josh Marini field goal from 29 yards out to extend their lead to four.
The Wonder Boys strung together a sequence of plays to begin the fourth quarter, allowing them to jump on top of UAM 42-32. First it was an eight play drive capped off with a 36 yard touchdown run on 4th and 4 by ATU’s Ty Reasnor. Then on UAM’s next offensive possession, Sears was picked off by K.J. Reid who returned it 39 yards for a defensive touchdown.
UAM responded with an eleven play drive that ended with a converted 4th down attempt for a touchdown of their own. On 4th and 6 at the ATU 20 yard line, Sears completed a touchdown pass to UAM’s all time leading receiver Jalen Tolliver.
Tech would then tack on a field goal to force the Boll Weevils to have to score a touchdown to win the game.
On the game winning drive, Sears connected with Tolliver and Trevon Smith for a few big completions. As the Boll Weevils were moving the ball, ATU’s Chris Kale would get called for an unsportsmanlike penalty that would prove costly for the Wonder Boys. Faced with 3rd and goal from the ATU 10 yard line, Sears took it into his own hands with the game winning touchdown run.
The final score indicated a shootout, but Jackson was sure to reference that the Boll Weevils defense was key to them pulling out the win. “We made fewer mistakes and the defense played very well,” Jackson said. “They got a pick six, and there was a fumble where our defense was backed up inside the 15. Our defense held them to under 400 total yards of offense and we were pretty stout. I can’t say enough about Cole and Jalen but the people who don’t get a lot of credit is their supporting cast. Because we’re pretty balanced, it allows Jalen to have those big plays and Cole to make those big runs. It’s always good when you can put together a good game against a good football team and have success.”
UAM was able to pull this one out after dropping their previous two games in heart-breaking fashion. According to Jackson, at that point, after losing those games, the team could have given up or kept grinding, and the results of the ATU game showed what they did.
“It says a lot about these guys,” Jackson said. “Those two games we lost were two tough ones and they were games we were in to the end. Those are the type that take a lot out of you, but I’ve found out we have some mentally tough kids. It’s one of those deals where you can sit there and feel sorry or you can actually get better at practice. If we didn’t have those type of kids, we wouldn’t have been able to win that game against Tech.”
Sears finished the game completing 29/49 passes for 365 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Sears, Tolliver, and Logan Penn each accounted for a rushing touchdown. Tolliver had another productive day with nine receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns. According to Jackson, Tolliver is one of the best players he’s coached and one of the best to ever play for the Boll Weevils.
“He’s obviously that next level guy,” Jackson said of Tolliver. “We’ve had a couple NFL teams that have come seen him at practice in the past couple of weeks. He holds the records for the most touchdowns and yards in a career. He works extremely hard, and our young guys feed off of that. He’s very passionate and wants to do whatever he has to do to win football games. It’s a rarity to come across players like this, and I can assure you he’s one of the best players I’ve been around and definitely one of the top receivers that’s been at UAM.”
After the win over the Wonder Boys, UAM now sits in a three way tie for third place in the GAC standings. The chance for a conference championship still looms as there is five football games left to be played.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re out of it,” Jackson said. “There’s five games left, and we still play the leader which is Southeastern Oklahoma who is undefeated. As of now we’re still not out of it. All we can do is focus on what we can do and not look ahead. We have to be mentally locked in to avoid a let down. We’ll see how it plays out week to week.”
The Boll Weevils have a road test this Saturday as they head to Oklahoma Baptist University.