MONTICELLO — After holding possession for 13 of the possible 15 minutes of the first quarter and leading 17-0, the University of Arkansas at Monticello football allowed Northwestern Oklahoma State to score 38 unanswered points to take a lead too large to overcome for the Weevils in the 2015 season opener.
Final score was 52-31 in favor of the Rangers.
UAM (0-1) opened the game by scoring on a 36-yard field goal by junior Jamie McGee 5:54 into the opening quarter to cap a 13-play, 57-yard drive. Later, senior quarterback Hunter Leppert hooked up with sophomore Jalen Tolliver for a 13-yard touchdown pass to cap an 11-play, 87-yard drive to put UAM up 10-0 at the 2:53 mark of the quarter.
The Weevils capped their 17-point first quarter with a five-yard touchdown pass to from Leppert to senior Trey Taylor with five second remaining in the period. That score came five plays after the Weevils recovered a NWOSU fumble on its first play from scrimmage following Taylor’s touchdown catch.
The Rangers (1-0) took over from there with 31 points in the second quarter to take a 31-17 lead at the halftime break before adding to their lead with a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half.
All together, the Rangers scored 28 points off of UAM’s five turnovers. The Weevils had four fumbles and one interception, including a pair lost fumbles on kickoff/punt return situations that left the Rangers with an average starting field position of their own 43-yard line throughout the night.
UAM broke up Northwestern’s unanswered scoring streak with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Leppert to sophomore Jeremy Jackson at the 9:02 mark of the third quarter. That trimmed UAM’s deficit to two touchdowns at 38-24, and the Weevils looked to have momentum by forcing a NWOSU punt on the ensuing possession. However, on UAM’s first play, junior Cedric Skinner lost control of the football and NWOSU recovered at the Weevil 15-yard line. The next play, a touchdown pass from NWOSU’s Reid Miller to Justin Schanbacher.
The Weevils finalized their scoring with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Leppert to Tolliver to once again cut the deficit down to two touchdowns.
The Rangers answered with the final score of the game with 14:40 remaining in regulation.
There were 877 yards of total offense combined between the two squads on Thursday night. NWOSU outgained UAM 459-418. The Weevils out-rushed the Rangers 110-80, but lost the passing battle 379-308.
UAM is back in action on Sept. 12 with a road trip to Weatherford, Okla., to take on Southwestern Oklahoma State at 6 p.m. The Weevils beat the Bulldogs 33-14 last season in Monticello.