Upset victories are nothing new to Arkansas-Monticello.

Upset victories are nothing new to Arkansas-Monticello.


In 2011, UAM hosted Valdosta State of Georgia and stunned the fourth-ranked team in Division II, 23-9. That was Hud Jackson’s first season at the helm in Monticello, and the Boll Weevils finished 5-6.


Twelve years earlier, UAM handed an eighth-ranked Southern Arkansas team one of its two losses that season and shocked Valdosta State on the road — but stumbled to a 4-7 record. It was, however, the first year following back-to-back winless campaigns for the Weevils.


If UAM can catch Henderson State emotionally down from last week’s home loss to Harding, it may be another welcome upset for Jackson and friends. The 28-24 loss snapped a 27-game Great American Conference winning streak and spiraled the Reddies (7-1, 6-1 GAC) from fourth to 14th in Division II rankings.


UAM (2-5, 2-5 GAC) has to win its remaining three games including Saturday’s at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia to avoid a losing record, something Jackson has so far been unable to do. The Weevils will attempt the upset riding a little bit of momentum from their first-ever GAC road victory at Southern Nazarene in Oklahoma.


To have a chance at victory, UAM must avoid turnovers, plenty of which plagued the team early and often in last year’s 37-21 Henderson State win. But the Weevils rank third in turnover margin in the GAC and will rely on the 10th-best pass defense in the country as well, led by standout defensive back Mike Early’s four interceptions. Early picked off two passes at Southern Nazarene.


Junior Hunter Leppert, the GAC’s Offensive Player of the Week, brings a steady hand with only one interception thrown and 1,503 passing yards and 10 touchdowns through six games. As a team, UAM’s three picks thrown ranks fifth nationally.


Henderson State has outscored opponents 342-120 this season and has gotten off to great starts this season with a 113-16 advantage in first quarters. HSU usually finishes games strong as well, winning the fourth quarters 84-31.


But that wasn’t the case last Saturday in Arkadelphia. Leading 24-13 at halftime, the Reddies held the ball for only 6 minutes the rest of the way and gave up the winning touchdown on a 3-yard reverse with 17 seconds to go.


Still, the Reddies boast 25 passing touchdowns on the season from Kevin Rodgers, which ranks him fifth nationally, and 114.5 receiving yards from Darius Davis, good for seventh.


Saturday’s game marks the 78th all-time meeting between the Weevils and Reddies, with the latter having won the past four.