The Game: The East Central University football team will welcome Ouachita Baptist, for the annual Battle of the Tigers, Saturday, Sept. 21 at Norris Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
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 171 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.’
Tailgating: This year the Tigers will have a designated tailgating location in the parking lot in front of the ECU baseball and softball fields. A reservation is required and can be done through Katie Wellington in the ECU Alumni Office (580-559-5651) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
The Series: The two Tiger teams have meet on 16 previous occasions, with OBU holding an 11-5 advantage. ECU was the victor in the last meeting, Oct. 27, 2012, with a 37-27 win over the then No. 20/23 OBU at Norris Field. Today’s game is the second-straight to be played in Ada.
Take A Kid To The Game Day: Saturday is a day for kids, with Mercy Hospital of Ada sponsoring Take A Kid To The Game Day. Kids age 12 and under receive free admission to the game and will be entertained with pre-game activities starting at 4 p.m. At half time there will also be a special performance by kids who participated in a Cheer Clinic that will run from 8:30-11 a.m. on the football practice field.
Scouting Ouachita Baptist: The Tigers are 1-0 and 1-0 in the GAC after earning a 49-24 win at Southern Nazarene in their first weekend of action.
OBU had a strong offensive performance with 480 yards of total offense (262 rushing/218 passing) and seven touchdowns. The Tigers scored six-out-of-seven times when they made it into the red zone. They were also strong on defense allowing just 265 yards of offense (76 rush/189 rushing).
Chris Rycraw led the rushing effort, with 13 carries for 92 yards and three of OBU’s seven TD’s. Brandon Marks added 58 yards on eight rushes and a TD.
Benson Jordan was 21-of-27 for the day, with two touchdowns and 210 yards in the air. He spread out his passes among six players, with Drew White being the connection on both TD’s. White finished the game with three catches for 54 yards.
On defense, Ricky Brown and Antwoin Patterson led the charge. Brown tallied nine tackles, two for loss and one sack. Patterson added seven total tackles, two for loss and a half sack.
Against the Tigers: For the first time since ECU Head Football Coach Tim McCarty returned to the Tigers, ECU claimed a win over a ranked opponent, with a 37-27 upset win over No. 20/23 Ouachita Baptist at Norris Field Oct. 27, 2012.
Spencer Bond was 11-of-20 for 155 yards passing and added 90 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Sophomore Qumain Black recorded an interception and five (4-1) tackles.
ECU earned an advantage in rushing (274 to 152 yards), but OBU tallied 336 yards passing to the Tigers 159. The key difference came on the defensive side where ECU recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes, while committing zero fumbles and interceptions.
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.
Tigers Picked Fifth in GAC Poll: This year the league’s head coaches have picked ECU to finish fifth (65 points). Henderson State was picked as the top team in the league (100 points/10 first-place votes), with Southern Arkansas (85/1), Harding (83) and Ouachita Baptist (73) rounding out the spots above the Tigers in the poll. Southeastern (49), Southwestern (47), Arkansas Tech (37), Arkansas-Monticello (31), Northwestern and Southern Nazarene (17) fill out the remainder of the poll.
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.
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.
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.
Offensive Consistency: The 2012 version of the ECU offense struggled to find consistency early in the season, but over the last three games emerged as a strong force. The good news for the Tigers is that eight of the offensive starters from a year ago are returning, including sophomore quarterback Spencer Bond.
Bond earned the starting quarterback position four games into the 2012 season and made the most of his new spot. He went 94-189-10 in passing, with eight touchdowns. Bond also added seven rushing touchdowns and rushed 86 times for 340 yards.
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 hit the road to battle with Henderson State, who is currently ranked No. 10 in the nation. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 28 at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia, Ark.