The Game: The East Central University football team is hosting its final battle of the 2013 season at Norris Field Saturday, Nov. 2 against Arkansas Tech at 2 p.m. The game will be packed full of extra honors, as it is the annual Senior Day, Chickasaw Nation Appreciation Day and the 1963 football team will be honored at halftime.
The Broadcast: ECU’s radio home for Tiger football in 2013 is Ada’s KXFC, 105.5, FM ‘The X-Factor’. Mike Manos returns to broadcast the games for his 17th consecutive season. Manos has worked 175 Tiger games since taking over the play-by-play duties in 1997.
The Coverage: Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats, live video and the KXFC radio broadcast on ECUTigers.com. Go to the football schedule page. You can also download the KXFC radio app for your smartphone by searching ‘105.5 the X Factor.’
Senior Day: Today’s game is the annual Senior Day, where ECU is honoring its 20 seniors: 1-George Robbins, 6-LaQuan Harper, 8-Caleb Holley, 10-Reuben Tiller, 11-Lindsey Anderson, 18-Austin Crisler, 25-Fred Gaines, 27-Justin Todd, 31-Terrence Holloman, 51-Antoine Peek, 56-Lamares Shields, 58-Ken Berry, 65-Stephen Mapp, 67-Bryant Newell, 74-J.J. Farrell, 77-Talon Starkey, 86-Cody Nall, 91-Charles Ramsey, 93-Alex King and equipment manager Wendell Reese.
Honoring the Team of 1963: The ECU Athletic Department will be honoring the 1963 football team at halftime against Arkansas Tech. The 1963 team was the first integrated football team at ECU and they laid the ground work for five-straight Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference Championships.
Chickasaw Nation Appreciation Day: Saturday’s game is also Chickasaw Nation Appreciation Day, with Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby is scheduled to do the coin toss. Anyone with a Chickasaw Nation ID or Work Badge will receive free admission into the game.
Coaches Show: Every Monday night fans are encouraged to come to Rib Crib in Ada for the weekly Coaches Show on 105.5 the X-Factor. Each week coaches from all 13 sports will be on hand to talk about the latest news from their teams. Fans will be able to tweet in questions to @ECUTigersCoach or ask them in person. Each week will feature different coaches and food specials.
Scouting Arkansas Tech: The Wonder Boys are 3-4 overall and 3-3 in the GAC after dropping a 24-34 decision to Ouachita Baptist in their last outing.
ATU has had close games all season, averaging 23.8 points per game and allowing 26.9. The Wonder Boys seem to set up their scoring drives on the pass and then finish them off on the rush. ATU has 1,672 yards passing to 1,054 rushing this season, but they have scored 15 rushing TD’s and just seven passing. The Wonder Boys are 168-of-268 passing on the year and have thrown nine interceptions. However, they have also intercepted 11 passes for 217 yards. ATU has a strong defense against the rush at 1,248 yards allowed rushing and 1,799 passing on the season.
Ketrich Harmon is the top rusher for the Wonder Boys, with 582 yards on 80 attempts. He has four TD’s and the next player on the rushing list has just 158 yards. ATU is not expected to start their normal quarterback, but Preston Conder. Conder has seen action in five games this season and is 17-of-36 without a touchdown scored. The top receivers for ATU quarterbacks are John Simpson and Jonathan Keener. Simpson has three TD’s with 216 yards, while Keener has 176 yards, but has yet to score.
Logan Genz is at the top of the defensive charts for the Wonder Boys. Genz has 82 (39-43) total tackles, nine tackles-for-loss (15 yards), two interceptions (30 yards), four break-ups, six passes defended and one forced fumble.
Against the Wonder Boys: After leading for most of the game, ECU earned a 33-30 win over Arkansas Tech at Thone Stadium on a 27-yard field goal from senior Brian Gonzalez in the last meeting (Nov. 3, 2012).
Spencer Bond was 16-of-26 on the day; threw one TD and added two rushing touchdowns of his own. Caleb Holley caught the receiving TD for the Tigers and had three catches for 66 yards.
ECU garnered a total of 493 yards of offense to the Wonder Boys 403, with the big difference coming on the rushing game. The Tigers rushed for a combined 268 yards to ATU’s 168.
The Series: The Tigers and the Wonder Boys have only played each other on 12 previous occasions, with ECU holding a 9-3 lead in the all-time series. The Tigers won the last two games, both being contested on the road. The first meeting was in 1930 when the Tigers claimed a 6-0 win.
King of Defense: The awards keep rolling in for ECU senior Alex King after he had one of the best games of his career at Southwestern Oklahoma State (Oct. 26). After earning Great American Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors he has now been named the D2Football.com Defensive Player of the Week.
King registered a career game in the Tigers’ 24-21 win against SWOSU. He set a GAC single-game record with 5.5 tackles-for-loss. He made more tackles (14) in the game than he had a season ago (13). He registered a pair of sacks and he forced a fourth-quarter fumble with SWOSU driving at the five-yard line to save a touchdown. His 5.5 tackles for loss ranks him tied for 3rd in the NCAA for TFL in a single game.
Night for the Record Books: ECU senior Caleb Holley was been named the GAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Northwestern Oklahoma State (Oct. 19).
Holley set an ECU record for receiving yards in a single game with 224. He had 212 at the half and had already broken the school record, set in 1969, of 183 by Dave Davis. He also tied the single game record for receiving touchdowns with three. In the first half, he helped the Tigers to 552 total yards, 418 receiving. He caught a 54-yard touchdown to start the second quarter.
Key Offensive Performance: The Tigers had their best offensive performance of the season against Northwestern (Oct. 19), with 599 yards of total offense, 405 passing and 194 rushing. It marked the fourth-straight week that ECU was above 400 yards of total offense, dating back to the Ouachita Baptist game (423). The Tigers added 418 yards against Henderson State, and 491 against Southern Nazarene.
Getting in the Red Zone: The Tigers have been very strong in the red zone this season, scoring 25 of the 28 times they have made it past the 20-yard line. The 89% mark ranked then No. 17 in the nation in the category. ECU has scored 19 TDs (68%) and six field goals when making it into the red zone and also held their opponents to a 22-of-31 (71%) mark, with 19 touchdowns and three field goals.
Turituri Turning Up Pressure: Junior JuJu Turituri turned up the pressure on the opposition in his last outing. Turituri tallied three tackles-for-loss, doubling his season totals. He also added two sacks, which brought his season total to three.
Long Arm of Gaines: Gaines has had his hands in the faces and paths of the opponent’s offensives this season. The Fresno, Calif., native had three pass break ups and eight total tackles, including one for loss, in the game against Ouachita Baptist. He now has season totals to 32.5 tackles, six passes defended, four pass break ups and two interceptions.
All-Around Bond: Sophomore Spencer Bond took control of both the running and passing aspects of the game against Ouachita Baptist, leading the Tigers in rushing and passing. Bond had a passing TD and a rushing TD in the game and ran for a team-high 150 yards. He then added a career-best 406 yards of total offense at No. 8 Henderson State. For the season he has a 140.96 passing efficiency, 1,925 passing yards, 17 touchdowns and 2,237 yards of total offense.
Penalty Woes: Penalties have been a key point for ECU so far this season, with two losses coming when they recorded more penalties than their opponents. This was evident in the loss to Ouachita Baptist when the Tigers committed 13 penalties for 124 yards. As a team, ECU is averaging 85.2 yards in penalties per game in 2013.
Special Teams Power: In the Tigers game at Southern Arkansas special teams led the way. ECU scored a safety and a touchdown on a kickoff return. Senior LaQuan Harper tallied a total of 111 yards for the night on kickoff returns, including a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Fellow senior Ruben Tiller added two more points for special teams, with a safety on a point after attempt return in the fourth quarter.
Defense Producing Offense: Junior Qumain Black had an outstanding first game of the season for the Tigers and was named the GAC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Black intercepted a pair of passes against Arkansas-Monticello. He returned the second interception 80 yards for the final touchdown of the game. In the first quarter, he returned his first interception 58 yards to the five-yard line that led to the second touchdown of the game. He also added a 40-yard kick return to finish with 178 all-purpose yards.
Todd’s Turn: Last season Justin Todd was behind Titus Mobley on the depth chart. This year he may be behind JoJo Snell, but he has already made a spot for himself on the field. In the first game of the year, Todd doubled the number of touchdowns he had scored in his career and recorded more yards than he had in 2012 combined. Todd had eight rushes for 97 yards (85 yards in 2012) and tallied two touchdowns (1 TD in 2011) all in the first half.
The JoJo Express: Junior transfer JoJo Snell had an impressive first game for the Tigers and accomplished it all in the first half of action. Snell exploded out of the pack for 101 rushing yards and 11 receiving yards. Snell averaged 6.3 yards per rush and had long runs of 45 yards, while scoring a TD.
New Season; New Field: Besides the new faces on the field, the team will be competing on a new surface, as the natural grass that had been at Norris Field for over 80 years was replaced with turf by the FieldTurf Company. The $880,300 facelift was completed in late April.
Black Gaining Attention: Junior Qumain Black was named to the 2013 USA College Football Pre-Season Division II All-America honorable mention team. Black was also a strong defensive presence for ECU as a sophomore in 2012. The All-GAC Honorable Mention tallied 51 total tackles (30-21), two tackles-for-loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. One on his forced fumbles resulted in a recovery and touchdown for 35 yards. The defensive back also added three interceptions for 29 yards and returned six kickoffs for 119 yards.
Gaines Garnering Pre-Season Honors: Senior Fred Gaines claimed three 2013 pre-season honors. Gaines was named to the 2013 D2Football.com Pre-Season All-America Second Team, the 2013 USA College Football Pre-Season Division II All-America First Team and the 2013 Beyond Sports Network Pre-Season All-America Second Team. He had a strong junior season for the Tigers in 2012. The safety was a 2012 Daktronics Super Region #3 Second Team Defensive selection after leading the Tigers and the Great American Conference with seven interceptions, for 80 yards. He also added 63 (46-17) tackles and three pass break-ups in 2012.
Gaines was also honored as an All-GAC First Team Selection as a safety in 2012. The Fresno, Calif., native is one of nine players from the GAC honored by Beyond Sports Network.
From the Playing Field to Coaching: The majority of the ECU coaching staff consists of familiar names for Tiger football fans. Seven of the current coaches were members of the ECU football program as collegiate athletes. Rashad Jackson, Chad Roark, Josh Phillips, Chris Espinoza, Brian Gonzalez, Dustin Lasell and Tyler McGrew have all worn an orange and black uniform before moving to a leadership role.
Seeking Winning Season Consistency: For the past two seasons the Tigers have had winning seasons, with an 8-3 mark in 2011 and a 6-5 record in 2012. It is the first time since 2000-01 that the Tigers have had back-to-back winning seasons (6-5/6-4). A winning season in 2013 would mark the first time since 1991-93 that ECU had three-straight winning seasons. In 1991 the Tigers went 5-4-1, 1992 was 6-3 and 1993, the National Championship season, had a 10-3 record.
Up Next: The Tigers will prepare for their final two games of the 2013 season on the road. ECU will first have a strong test at Harding, who is ranked No. 2 in the GAC standings. Game time is set for 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2 in Searcy, Ark.