ALVA, Okla. (ATU) - Senior Luke Halpin was 25-for-34 with 272 yards and two touchdowns, Tony Adams caught five passes for 59 yards, and Nick Akins had four solo tackles as the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (1-0, 1-0 Great American Conference) started the Raymond Monica era with a win, topping Northwestern Oklahoma (0-1, 0-1 GAC) 38-10 on Thursday night.
The win marked the first time that Tech allowed ten or less points since beating Incarnate Word 40-10 on Sept. 5, 2009.
The two defenses traded stops to open the contest before the Rangers were able to sustain a drive, taking advantage of good field position to go 43 yards in 12 plays, setting up a 25-yard field goal attempt by Kevin Ditch that gave NWOSU an early lead.
The Wonder Boys responded immediately, quickly marching 75 yards downfield on nine plays, capping the drive with a two-yard Justin Owens touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead with 2:28 to play in the opening quarter.
After forcing a turnover on downs, the Wonder Boys once again marched downfield, using a five-play, 57-yard drive to capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Casey Henderson on the opening drive of the second quarter.
The Rangers took advantage of a personal foul penalty on the opening kickoff , starting their drive on the Tech 44 yard line. On the second play, quarterback Reid Miller rushed left for 26 yards and a score, pulling NWOSU to within 14-10 with 12:51 to play in the half.
Once again, the Wonder Boys responded by moving the ball downfield, despite being pinned inside their own 20 on the kickoff. Halpin connected with John Simpson on a 13-yard strike, capping a 14-play, 82-yard drive and giving the Wonder Boys a 21-10 lead.
After a defensive stop, the Tech offense once again put points on the board, using a 12-play, 56-yard drive to set up a 34-yard field goal by Velazquez as time expired, sending Tech into the half with a 24-10 lead.
The Tech defense would hold strong in the second half, allowing just 70 yards by the NWOSU offense.
Meanwhile, the Wonder Boys offense would pad the lead in the third quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run by Ketrich Harmon that pushed the lead to 31-10, and added their final points of the game late in the third quarter on another 13-yard touchdown pass from Halpin to Simpson.
Nick Akins, Logan Genz, and Wesley McKinney all had four tackles to lead the Wonder Boys. Genz, Thomas Soehner, Jordan Wallace, and Kyle Cargill all notched sacks, while Akins and Marlon Simmons all added tackles for loss. Demetris Ford added two QB hurries, while Deandre' Bonner was credited with three pass breakups.
The Wonder Boys will return to action on Saturday, September 14, hosting Southwestern Oklahoma in a battle of first-place teams in the Great American Conference. Kickoff from Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field is set for 6 p.m.