Tech forced six ECU turnovers in the win.
ADA, Okla. – Deandre’ Bonner and Shai Kobayashi both had two interceptions, Darion Shine turned in an interception and Justin Martin recovered a fumble as the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys football team (4-5, 4-4 Great American Conference) forced six turnovers by the East Central Tigers (4-4, 4-4 Great American Conference) to pick up a 26-17 win over ECU on Saturday at Norris Field.
The two defenses traded stops on the first two possessions of the contest. ECU quarterback Spencer Bond’s errant pass on the first play of the ensuing possession was picked by Kobayashi, who returned the ball toe the ECU 12-yard line. Three plays later, Justin Owens capped the short drive with a three-yard touchdown run, giving the Wonder Boys an early 7-0 lead.
As ECU moved the ball downfield on its subsequent drive, Kobayashi picked up his second pick at the Tech 37-yard line. Once again the Wonder Boys capitalized on the Tigers’ miscue, using an eight-play, 63-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run by Owens to pull ahead 14-0.
Tech held the 14-0 lead into the second quarter, and tacked on another three on a 39-yard field goal into the wind by Randy Velazquez on the opening drive of the second quarter.
ECU attempted to cut into the 14-0 lead with a 48-yard field goal attempt by Trevor Hunt, but the kick was blocked by Tech’s Tim Kelly, and the Tigers were kept off the board.
Hunt would get another chance to put the Tigers on the board, and was successful as time expired in the second quarter, kicking a 30-yard field goal to pull ECU to within 17-3 at the end of the second quarter.
The Wonder Boys added to their lead early in the second half, as Velazquez tacked on a 25-yard field goal to push Tech ahead 20-3. However, momentum would turn to the Tigers, as Bond connected with Caleb Holley on a 26-yard touchdown strike on the next drive to cut the Tech lead to 20-10, and after the Wonder Boys’ lone turnover of the game, the Tigers used a short field to pull to within 20-17 three plays later.
Tech got some breathing room on the opening drive of the fourth quarter, as Owens picked up his third rushing touchdown on a three-yard run. Velazquez’s extra-point attempt was blocked, and the Wonder Boys’ lead was 26-17.
The lead would hold, but not without some fourth-quarter drama. After a quick first down on the next possession, Bond connected with David Moore on a 62-yard route that gave ECU a first and goal on the Tech eight-yard line. However, as Bond went for the end zone, he found Bonner, whose interception in the end zone gave the Wonder Boys the ball on their 20-yard line.
After Tech was forced to punt, ECU drove down field yet again, getting as far as the Tech 31-yard line.
Again, Bond went for the end zone, and again, Bond found Bonner, whose second end-zone interception brought the ECU momentum to a full stop, with 4:48 to play in the contest.
Tech took about four minutes off the clock on its next drive, and punter Matthew Shade was able to pin the Tigers inside their own five-yard line with 58 seconds to play. The Tech defense was able to keep ECU from getting any closer.
Ketrich Harmon narrowly missed his fourth 100-yard game of the season, picking up 98 yards on 24 carries. Casey Henderson averaged 7.8 yards per carry, carrying five times for 39 yards, while Preston Conder passed for 204 yards on 21-of-32 passing in his first start of the season. Owens ran for three scores on nine carries, while Bonner led the Wonder Boys with 11 tackles.
The Wonder Boys will return to action next Saturday, Nov. 9, opening the final homestand of the 2013 season with a contest against Southeastern Oklahoma.