September 18th, 2023 5:00am
Week three in the GAC offered a few surprises for football fans across the area. We’re already a third of the way through the season, and the bigger matchups on the conference calendar are starting to emerge.
Let’s jump into the recaps. We’re always open to suggestions here on the GAC column, so we’re adjusting the recap column for this week to see how it’s received. We’ll go through each game and talk about what stood out for each team.
East Central 24, Southwestern OSU 13
East Central- The Tigers’ defense is going to keep them competitive in the GAC this year. Through three games, ECU is fifth in scoring defense and in yards per play. East Central absolutely smothered the Bulldogs on Saturday in Weatherford, and it probably won’t be the last time ECU wins a low-scoring affair this season.
Southwestern OSU- Man, the Bulldogs are bad on offense. SWOSU had just 175 yards of offense on Saturday against ECU, leaving them dead-last in the league in yards per game at 207 yards. As far as we’re aware, this isn’t an injury-inflicted bunch, so it’s hard to see this improving much over the course of the year.
Henderson State 27, Arkansas Tech 24
Henderson State- The Reddies are terrific offensively and against the run. The Reddies racked up 504 yards of offense and held the Wonder Boys to less than one yard per rush on 32 attempts. Salty stuff. HSU didn’t do a great job finishing drives, or this could have been a different margin of victory on Saturday. The secondary is definitely improved, but still seems to be the weakest part of the team, which for a loaded team like the Reddies, isn’t saying too much.
Arkansas Tech- Quarterback Taye Gatewood really has played pretty well through the first three games. Despite throwing two interceptions and being sacked five times, Gatewood still had a chance to lead Tech down the field for a tying field goal or winning touchdown against the Reddies. He was unable to do so, but his performance early this year has been a bright spot for the winless Wonder Boys.
Harding 59, Arkansas-Monticello 19
Harding- The Bisons just look scary good. Saturday was the third straight game of 49+ points to start the season for the Bisons, who rushed for 424 yards against the Weevils. The defense dominated another unlucky opponent as well, racking up 11 tackles for loss, four sacks, one fumble recovery and three interceptions. This one was so lopsided, Harding lost four fumbles themselves and still won by 40. Yikes.
Arkansas-Monticello- Perhaps the Weevils are somewhere between the team that dominated the first two games and the team that got run over against the Bisons. The coming weeks will tell. The Weevils rushed for just 34 yards against Harding and is rushing for just 112 yards per game this season. That needs to improve for UAM to find success this year.
Southern Nazarene 42, Northwestern OSU 29
Southern Nazarene- Turnovers are the great equalizer, but the Crimson Storm continue to be an explosive offensive. SNU coughed up three fumbles on Saturday, keeping the Rangers closer than they should have been, but also averaged 7.8 yards per play while rolling up 549 yards of offense. The defense showed some issues, particularly in the secondary, so that will be something to watch.
Northwestern OSU- The Rangers showed some signs of life on offense this week, racking up 477 yards of offense, including 331 yards through the air. Ethan Everson had a great game, going 21-of-37 without an interception against the Crimson Storm. The Rangers have some good pieces on offense, but the quarterback position was the area of concern. Perhaps this performance boosts the confidence of Everson and the unit as a whole for the remainder of the season.
Ouachita Baptist 52, Southern Arkansas 24
Ouachita Baptist- The Tigers are just loaded with talent. Southern Arkansas isn’t a bad bunch and the Tigers just took care of business early and then smothered the Muleriders in the second half. The Tigers got great performances from Kendal Givens, Riley Harms, Connor Flannigan, Josiah Johnson, Mikey Gonzalez, and, well, you get the picture. Another big win for Ouachita.
Southern Arkansas- The Muleriders got in 84 plays against Ouachita Baptist, but were only able to come away with 24 points. Meanwhile, SAU was simply unable to stop the Tigers on defense. Something just seems off with the Muleriders on offense. OB Jones is an immensely talented quarterback, but it seems other options are being sacrificed. Jariq Scales is a two-time 1,000-yard back, but is averaging just 65 yards per game thus far. Jones doesn’t need to carry the load on the ground the way he has thus far this season.
Oklahoma Baptist 36, Southeastern OSU 3
Oklahoma Baptist- Shocking performance of the night for sure. However, when you win the turnover battle 5-0, the score is probably going to look similar. The Bison defense is markedly improved from a season ago. Through three games, the Bison rank in the top half of the league in several categories, after finding themselves near the bottom in practically everything last year. Offensively, Michael Marshall seems to be the next big thing at wide receiver for OBU, while quarterback Aiden Thompson has been nothing less than solid so far this year.
Southeastern OSU- The Savage Storm are 0-3 and have to be wondering what the next step is. One week after holding a two-score lead late in the third quarter against Henderson State, SEOSU managed just a measly field goal against OBU. Star wide receiver Marquis Gray is hurt, there’s ZERO run game to speak of, quarterback play has been erratic and a defense, which has some solid pieces, just hasn’t been able to be good enough to overcome the offensive struggles. Not sure where Southeastern goes from here, but it could be a long year.
Predictions: 5-1, 16-2 for the season
Definitely didn’t see the Oklahoma Baptist beatdown coming. Also had a few wildly wrong margins, but a solid week, overall.