Monterio May never envisioned becoming a head baseball coach this year and prepared for another season as director of player development at the University of Central Arkansas.
But that quickly changed with the resignation of Scott Bramlett as head baseball coach at Heber Springs High School in September.
May learned from a former teammate about the job opening at Heber Springs, submitted an application and the rest is now history. He took the reins of the Panther baseball program Monday and began preparation for the new season.
“I applied for the job and received an email within 24 hours asking me to come and interview,” May said. “I jumped out of my seat and was excited to get an interview. I met with the school administrators and school district staff, and they treated me like a member of the family. I’m grateful to the community, school district and (Superintendent) Dr. (Andy) Ashley for the opportunity.”
May began learning the game at an early age and took advantage of opportunities to play at different levels.
“I played baseball since the age of five,” he said. “I try to use the competitive edge to my advantage. One of my biggest accomplishments was being an alternate on the USA Baseball 16-and-under team.”
May started his collegiate baseball career at Shelton County Community College (Alabama). He transferred to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (Alabama) because of an injury and the school was closer to his home. May finished his playing career at Central Baptist College in Conway.
“After earning an associate’s degree, I made the best decision in my life in coming to Arkansas,” May said. “I played two years (at CBC) for coach Aaron Brister and was part of the team when it won a conference championship.”
After playing one year in an independent league, May accepted an opportunity to work for UCA and head coach Allen Gum.
“I worked at UCA for the last three years,” May said. “I was prepared to stay at UCA and wait to see what might open in a year. This job turned into the right fit for me.”
May is completing the final requirements for a master’s degree in educational and athletic administration. He then plans to start work on a doctorate’s degree.
May comes from a family of educators. A sister is a teacher and a brother-in-law is a strength and conditioning coach. May said that taught him the importance of education.
“Education can never be taken away from you,” May said. “My ultimate goal is to make an impact on people around me. Coaching and teaching allow me to do that. I want to make a positive impact.”
May met with players last week and held a parents’ meeting Thursday night at the Panther Den. He said everything has been positive and ready to start preseason workouts.
“I noticed that we have players with a lot of athleticism,” he said. “We had around 27 players at the first meeting, and I know of four basketball players who will join us when that season is completed.”
May said everything is in place for success.
“My philosophy is to finish strong,” he said. “We will learn how to compete at a high level. We have amazing facilities and a community that supports the program 100 percent. We will find ways to get the job done and build a foundation for the future of the program.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Central Arkansas Sugar Bears wrapped up play in D.C. in a massive way as they defeated the Sacred Heart Pioneers and host Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday to win the 2019 Georgetown Classic. The Sugar Bears (4-0) concluded play on a high note as they easily handled previously undefeated Hoyas in three sets and recorded a scorching .338 hitting percentage.
UCA 3, PIONEERS 1
The Sugar Bears continued to lay the attack on their opponents this afternoon as they delivered 55 kills on the Pioneers. Senior Abbie Harry led the way for Central Arkansas with a team-high 16 kills and 13 digs while sophomores Madi Bowles and Lexi Miller contributed 13 and 11 kills. The setter pairing of senior Elizabeth Armstrong and junior Bailey Waddington continued to be a dynamic duo with 47 combined assists while junior libero Emily Doss recorded a match-high 16 digs.
SET 1 – Both teams gave the crowd an entertaining start to the match as there were six ties recorded within the first 12 points. After a Sugar Bear error made it 6-6, Miller recorded two of her 11 kills during a 6-1 run that gave her team some breathing room. The Sugar Bears timed their next run perfectly as they answered a Pioneers kill with five straight points to make it 17-10. Sacred Heart would pull within six after a Central Arkansas error, but two straight errors of their own granted Central Arkansas the 25-18 win.
SET 2 – The second set started similar to the first as the initial 16 points saw six ties. The Pioneers attempted to create breathing room of their own with a quick 3-0 spurt to make it 10-8, but the Sugar Bears responded with two kills and four straight points to regain the 12-10 lead. Central Arkansas created crucial separation from Sacred Heart with a 5-0 run a few points later to confidently lead 18-12. The Pioneers attempted to threaten with two straight points to make it 24-21, but Harry’s fifth kill of the set notched the 25-21 win.
SET 3 – The Pioneers came out of the break desperate and grabbed an early 5-1 lead. Their lead later stretched to eight off a kill, but the Sugar Bears momentarily stopped the bleeding with three straight points to make it 15-10. The Pioneers kept countering Sugar Bear responses until point 35 when Central Arkansas turned up the pressure and took five of the next six to make it 21-19. Still down 24-21, the Sugar Bears got a Harry kill and three straight Pioneer errors to take their first lead at 25-24. Central Arkansas had two chances to win but could not convert and the Pioneers took the third set 29-27 off back-to-back kills. The Sugar Bears recorded a set-high 16 kills in the comeback effort.
SET 4 – The Sugar Bears handled the loss well and responded with an early 4-1 lead. The Pioneers held their composure and took four of the next five to tie it at 5-5. After the Sugar Bears grabbed a 9-7 lead off a Harry kill, the Pioneers took their biggest lead after a 7-1 run made it 14-10. Central Arkansas immediately regained the momentum with a 5-1 run off back-to-back Sacred Heart errors to tie it at 15. After going back and forth for a handful of points, freshman Alexis Stumbough converted her second kill of the set to give the Sugar Bears the 20-19 lead. She stayed hot and converted two more kills before Waddington sent the Pioneers to the locker room with a service ace to win 25-22.
UCA 3, HOYAS 0
The Sugar Bears saved their best tournament performance for last as they converted 38 kills and a season-low 12 errors. Harry and Miller led the attack with 11 and 10 kills while Waddington contributed a team-high 16 assists. Doss continued to jumpstart the offense, providing a game-high 12 digs.
SET 1 – The match started in true championship fashion as six ties were recorded within the first 16 points. Miller helped create separation from the Hoyas with three kills amongst a 5-0 run to make it 13-8. After two straight Sugar Bear errors pulled the Hoyas within three, Bowles got red-hot and converted three straight kills to give her team a strong 17-10 lead. Georgetown had no answers for Central Arkansas as a Harry kill completed a 25-16 win.
SET 2 – The second set stayed close through the first 26 points as nine ties occurred and the Sugar Bears delivered seven kills. The Sugar Bears were finally able to pull away and go on a 6-1 run powered by five straight Hoya errors that made it 19-14. Georgetown had a small glimmer of hope after a kill pulled them within four, but Central Arkansas would close the match on a 6-0 run and take it 25-15. The Hoyas finished with 10 errors in the set.
SET 3 – The Sugar Bears jumped out to a quick 4-2 lead thanks to a Harry kill and three Hoya errors. After Harry’s second kill of the set made it 8-4, Georgetown responded with a mini 3-1 run to pull within two at 9-7. Both teams would go back and forth for the next seven points before the Sugar Bears benefitted from even more Hoya errors and went on a 6-0 run to lead 18-11. The Sugar Bear lead ballooned even further after junior Amari Mitchell delivered back-to-back kills and made it 20-11 to put the Hoyas on their heels. Georgetown tried their best to keep their crowd entertained by going on a quick 4-0 run to cut the lead to four, but they would not get any closer as Central Arkansas converted four kills and secured the championship match at 25-19.
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH MARISSA COLLINS ON DAY TWO
“I could not be prouder of the way this team played. They showed heart, growth and so much grit through the tough competition we faced.
Our defensive efforts and blocking presence were key, along with being able to run the most diverse offense we’ve had since I’ve been coaching at UCA.
Every single player contributed to our team’s success this weekend and we are really excited to build off of this tournament going into Kansas State next weekend.”
The Sugar Bears will return home and have little time to rest as they will hit the road next Wednesday for the K-State Invitational in Manhattan, Kansas. Their first match is set to come against the Omaha Mavericks on September 5 at 12 p.m.
CONWAY – It was a rough afternoon in Jonesboro for the Central Arkansas women’s soccer team as a rocky start to the match left themselves with a small chance of recovery. The Bears traveled to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State, a team that came into the match coming off a huge victory against Big 12 Conference affiliate Kansas State.
Central Arkansas (0-3), found themselves down two goals less than five minutes into the match, conceding a goal in the second minute and another in the third. However, the Bears responded to adversity and got a goal back in the 23rd minute before ultimately conceding a third goal late as more numbers were thrown forward in an attempt to equalize.
Arkansas State’s Abigail Glockzin gave the Red Wolves an early 1-0 advantage inside of two minutes into the match.
Arkansas State doubled their lead in the third minute on a goal from Sarah Sodoma.
The Red Wolves nearly grabbed a third in the 20th minute, however UCA keeper Reagan McCombs was up to the task and recorded her first save of the afternoon.
Central Arkansas cut the deficit in half in the 23rd minute courtesy of a Gracie Hair goal, her first of the season.
The Bears would nearly equalize five minutes later on a Emma Hawkins strike that flew just wide right of the net.
The Bears continued to threaten in the second half in search for the equalizing goal and nearly grabbed it in the 53rd minute on a Jordan Slim strike that forced a corner kick.
Hawkins again nearly tied it up for Central Arkansas in the 67th minute as she saw her strike fly just high of the net.
A corner kick opportunity in the 80th minute nearly saw the Red Wolves grab their two goal advantage again as ASU’s Haley Husted was denied by goalkeeper Elizabeth Lewis just in front of goal.
ASU would score the final goal of the match in the 84th minute as the Bears many numbers forward in a final attempt to grab an equalizer.
Central Arkansas finished the match with eight total shots, and only one on frame. Goalkeepers McCombs and Lewis each saw a half of action recording two saves apiece.
Coach Bishop Quotes
“Today was similar to Friday in that we gave away a couple of scoring chances early in the match and our opponent took full advantage, but we settled in after that and controlled most of the play. Today, we didn’t create enough scoring chances to get ourselves fully back into the game. We have to be sharper in the final third so we can get more looks at goal. It’s a process. We have to keep working and I know this group will.”
The Bears are back in action this Friday, September, 6 as they travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
CONWAY – Few chances created saw Central Arkansas hang on for a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes of play tonight in an ultimate dogfight from the Bill Stephens Complex in Conway.
Central Arkansas took an early 1-0 advantage in the first ten minutes of the match, but were unable to create many more chances following the goal. Campbell found an equalizer in the second half and would create a few more quality scoring chances, but neither team was unable to find a late winner.
Central Arkansas took an early 1-0 lead in the tenth minute after capitalizing on a set piece. Soren Jensen converted a header flicked on by Mathias Bendiksen and just got it over the goal line in what was a goal by a matter of inches.
UCA’s Katsuyoshi Kimishima had a chance to double the Bears’ lead in the 30th minute, but saw his shot fly wide right.
Marc Olsen came up big for the Bears in the final moments of the first half, denying the Camels an equalizer in the 44th minute, recording his first of four saves on the evening.
The second half saw little action until the 64th minute, where Campbell finally found an equalizing goal on a Thibaut Jacquel free kick strike from 25 yards out.
The Camels would continue to apply pressure and nearly grabbed the lead in the 74th minute, but again Olsen was up to the task denying Aigbekan Nosegbe the go-ahead on a near post strike.
Olsen denied the Ramblers a late winner in the 87th minute, diving down to his left side and pushing the ball out for a corner on a hard hit strike by Humberto Chavez. Chavez’s attempt would be the final opportunity created in regulation.
UCA’s Nate Lancaster came to the rescue for the Bears in the 95th minute on a fantastic goal line clearance, denying the Camels a golden goal winner.
The Camel’s were again denied a winner by Olsen in the 97th minute, recording his third save of the night.
Campbell created the final opportunity of the match in the 107th minute as Alex Egeonu’s strike down the middle forced yet another save from Olsen.
Central Arkansas finished the match with just six total shots and only one on frame compared to Campbell’s 18 total shots and five on target
“We escaped without losing and I think that’s the positive we got out of tonight. We had some brave performances defensively, but we’re not going to be able to play like that and have the season we want to have. It was disappointing to have the performance that we did because we were ready, but we just couldn’t put it together. Credit to Campbell. They put us under a ton of pressure and they played really well.”
The Bears get a six day break before being in action again as they host Incarnate Word Saturday, September 7. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
JONESBORO – Three Red Wolves scored for the first time this season, as the Arkansas State soccer team defeated in-state foe Central Arkansas 3-1, Sunday afternoon at the A-State Soccer Park.
Following the win, the Red Wolves improved to 2-1 while Central Arkansas fell to 0-3 on the year.
Carrollton, Texas, native, Abby Glockzin found the back of the net in the 2ndminute, her first of the season, giving the Red Wolves a 1-0 lead over the Sugar Bears. The goal was setup by Junior Haley Furio, who sent a near perfect corner kick into the box, which found Glockzin just inches away from the net.
The Red Wolves struck again about 2 minutes later, in the 3rd minute, off the foot of Haley Husted which marked her first goal of the season. Sarah Sodoma was credited with assist, allowing the home team to build a 2-0 advantage over Central Arkansas. However, UCA pulled within 2-1 in the 23rdminute off of a Gracie Hair goal, which marked its only goal of the match.
Riley Minard added insurance to the Red Wolves lead in the 84th minute 3-1, after a free kick. The goal marked the first of the 2019 campaign for the Overland Park, Kansas, native. Husted led the Red Wolves offensively with four shots while Sodoma followed with three.
Megan McClure only allowed on goal as Arkansas State out shot UCA 14-8 on the day. The Scarlet and Black took four shots on goal compared to the Sugar Bear’s 1 while only committed nine fouls compared to the UCA 16.
Arkansas State will return to action Thursday, Sept. 5, when it hosts Jackson State at the A-State Soccer Park. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
For the latest on A-State Soccer follow the team by logging onto the Arkansas State Soccer Facebook page or by following the team on Twitter (@AStateSoccer)and Instagram (AStateSoccer).
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Central Arkansas Sugar Bears narrowly escaped day one of the Georgetown Classic as they defeated the Rider Broncs and Central Connecticut State Blue Devils in five-set thrillers. The Sugar Bears overcame early adversity in both matches, erasing 1-0 deficits in route to the wins.
SET 1 – The Sugar Bears gained their biggest lead of the set at 11-8 after a service ace and kill from senior Abbie Harry sparked a 5-0 run. The Broncs responded by taking full control of the set as they reached 25 on a 17-7 run.
SET 2 – The second set was essentially a flip of the first as Central Arkansas took control following a competitive start. After a Broncs kill made it 6-6, the Sugar Bears scored five straight and never looked back. Miller recorded two of her set-high six kills in the spurt and the team finished with a set-high 16 kills in route to a 25-16 win.
SET 3 – The third set started in a battle as four ties occurred within the first eight points. The next 16 points would be a trio of runs as Rider and Central Arkansas continued to claw at each other. After a quick 4-0 Sugar Bear run cut the deficit to 11-9, the Broncs responded with five of the next six points to make it 16-10 and eventually cruised to a 25-20 win.
SET 4 – With their backs against the wall, the Sugar Bears came out focused and secured an early 7-1 lead off back-to-back Stumbough service aces. The Broncs would pull within five off a kill and Sugar Bear error to make it 15-10, but Central Arkansas eventually closed them off with six straight points to win 25-15. Stumbough recorded two kills in the last four points to continue her strong morning.
SET 5 – The Broncs started the last set with an early 2-0 lead before the Sugar Bears took the next six points to create the breathing room needed to take the match. After a Central Arkansas service error pulled Rider within two, a pair of kills from Miller and junior Amari Mitchell solidified the win. The Sugar Bears recorded an impressive 10 kills in the last set.
UCA 3, BLUE DEVILS 2
The Sugar Bears attack was on full display against the Blue Devils as they recorded 68 kills. Stumbough continued her impressive day with a team-high 15 kills and 14 digs. Redshirt-junior Ravin Rhodes, Bowles and Harry also contributed with 10+ kills apiece. Waddington and Armstrong made passing look easy as they combined for 65 assists on the night while Doss led the team in digs with 23.
SET 1 – The first set saw four ties within the first 14 points as both sides started strong. After a Bowles kill gave the Sugar Bears a 13-11 lead, the Blue Devils scored the next four and never trailed again. An Armstrong kill pulled Central Arkansas within three at 23-20, but Central Connecticut scored two of the next three to win 25-21.
SET 2 — The Sugar Bears capitalized on two straight Blue Devil attack errors and took an early 3-0 lead. The set was decided when the Sugar Bears turned their narrow 9-7 lead into a comfortable 17-9 advantage. Errors haunted the Blue Devils again as they converted five of them during the spurt. Bowles and Stumbough led the Central Arkansas attack in the set with four kills apiece.
SET 3 – The third set was about Central Arkansas runs and kills as they recorded two separate five-point streaks and a set-high 17 kills. After a Blue Devil kill brought them within two at 12-10, the Sugar Bears responded with five unanswered points and three kills to position them nicely at 17-10. The Blue Devils would later respond with a 4-0 spurt to pull within one at 21-20, but a pair of kills from Stumbough would help push Central Arkansas to a 25-22 win.
SET 4 – The Blue Devils saw their best performance at the net in the fourth set as they recorded a set-high 17 kills to help stay alive. Trailing 24-20, the Sugar Bears attempted to rally as they strung together back-to-back kills from Harry and Mitchell. The rally fell short soon after though as a service error gave the Blue Devils point 25.
SET 5 – Like the fifth set against the Riders, the Sugar Bears took early control of the set with a commanding 7-0 lead. The Blue Devils kept their heads high and scrapped together three straight to make it 10-6, but they would not get closer than four as a Stumbough kill slammed the door shut on the Blue Devils. For the second straight match, Central Arkansas recorded 10 kills in the fifth set and was led by Stumbough and Bowles.
ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH JOHN NEWBERRY ON DAY ONE
“The first day of the tournament went just as we expected it to. Both teams were big and physical but played completely different styles of volleyball. The sets that we lost were based solely on our lack of execution with passing and a few mental errors. The sets that we won were fun and the team was able to get on several point runs.
We had some major bright spots with all of our positions at some point of the game. Several of our players had double digit kills which helped us have a well-balanced offense that is difficult to read.
We are excited for the next day. Competition is going to be a very strong challenge for us.”
The Sugar Bears will wrap up tournament play tomorrow with a doubleheader against the Sacred Heart Pioneers and host Georgetown Hoyas. The first match against the Pioneers is set to begin at noon.
CONWAY – Conceding a goal in the fourth minute and another in the 18th saw the Central Arkansas women’s soccer team trailing Missouri State in their own backyard early in the match. The Bears came into the match allowing less than a goal per match at the Bill Stephens Complex and was riding a 10 game home unbeaten streak.
Central Arkansas (0-2) showed resilience despite being down 2-0 in the first 20 minutes and would go on to score two unanswered goals of their own, with the equalizer coming in the 67th minute. Missouri State went on to find a late winner in the 80th minute, leaving Central Arkansas very limited time to potentially equalize again.
Missouri State’s Brooke Zenner found the back of the net just inside four minutes of playing, giving Missouri State an early 1-0 advantage.
Missouri State would double their lead in the 18th minute on a strike Unnur Bergsdottir.
Central Arkansas responded quickly, finding the back of the net in the 22nd minute on a beautifully worked goal that ended in a Hadley Dickinson finish from just inside the penalty area.
UCA’s Savannah Tidd created a couple of chances towards the end of the first half, forcing saves from Missouri State’s Kaitlin Maxwell in the 41st and 42nd minutes.
Anika Sultan would equalize for Central Arkansas in the 67th minute after a strike directly from a corner kick found its way into the side netting, giving UCA a chance to potentially snatch a late winner.
Sultan’s equalizer would be short lived after Missouri State’s Britney Robinson pounced on a late opportunity and scored what would ultimately be the winning goal for her team in the 80th minute.
Central Arkansas finished the match with 12 total shots, striking six of them on target, while Reagan McCombs finished the match four total saves.
Coach Bishop Quotes
“Being down 2-0 and fighting back to get even with them was big for us, but to fall behind 2-0 the way that we did was disappointing. Once we got ourselves going, we were the better team, we were just unfortunate to not do more in our attacking opportunities.”
The Bears will travel to Jonesboro Sunday afternoon to face in-state foe Arkansas State. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
CONWAY – It was all smiles tonight as Central Arkansas men’s soccer was able to grab a season opening victory against Wright State. The Bears came into tonight having played two exhibition games and was looking to carry over the momentum from exhibition win number two against Tulsa, where they netted six goals in a 6-1 thrashing of the Golden Hurricanes.
The attacking power was on full display again tonight for the Bears as UCA (1-0) scored four goals, netting three in the second half. The Bears gave up just one goal on what was an unlucky deflection from a set piece.
The match got off to a rip roaring start as both teams created scoring chances early on, and would continue to create chances the entire duration of the first half.
UCA’s Moaid Ankir nearly gave the Bears a 1-0 advantage less than two minutes into the match after his strike from just inside the penalty area forced a save from the Wright State keeper.
Wright State would nearly grab the lead in the ninth minute after a strike from Jackson Dietrich rattled Olsen’s right crossbar on its way out of play.
The deadlock would be broken in the 20th minute courtesy of Niklas Brodacki. Matthias Bendiksen slid Brodacki through, who was just onside and took care of the rest, finishing into the bottom right corner from six yards out.
Brodacki found himself in another good scoring position in the 25th minute, but his strike flew just wide right and the score remained 1-0.
Central Arkansas was awarded a penalty in the 41st minute, but the Wright State keeper was up to the task denying Brodacki his second goal of the night on a diving stop to his left side.
Ankir found himself in the six yard box with a one on one opportunity, but was intervened by a Wright State defender, leaving the referee no choice but to award UCA its second penalty kick of the match.
Soren Jensen would step up this time, and converted from 12 yards out on a perfectly placed penalty into the bottom left corner, doubling the Bears’ advantage.
Wright State would grab one back in the 62nd minute after a 25 yard free kick strike took an unlucky deflection, leaving Marc Olsen with no chance to react.
Kasper Andersen again doubled the Bears’ lead on what was arguably the goal of the match. Great buildup play from Alexsi Morel and Katsu Kimishima put Andersen in a great position and the Denmark international took care of the rest, finding the top corner on a sensational strike from 18 yards out.
UCA’s fourth goal would come from Matthias Bendiksenin the 73rd minute. The skipper took a pass from Brodacki across the 18 yard box and calmly side-footed it into the bottom right corner to give the Bears a 4-1 advantage.
TEMPE, Arizona – It was a tough night for the University of Central Arkansas women’s soccer team as goals were at a premium in its 7-1 season opener defeat to Arizona State Sunday night from Sun Devil Soccer Stadium. Potentially the toughest game of the season for the Bears, they faced a star studded Arizona State squad that featured six players from their respective national teams, a top honor for any footballer.
UCA (0-1) took an early 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, but were unable to consistently create chances for the entire duration of the match. The Bears tallied three shots total, putting two on target compared to Arizona State’s 19 shots combined with nine on target.
Senior striker Connie Awuku-Darkoh gave the Bears a 1-0 advantage inside of nine minutes after capitalizing on a mistake from the Arizona State goalkeeper.
Arizona State equalized in the 12th minute and would take a 2-1 lead in the 30th minute. Both ASU goals scored by Nicole Douglas.
Arizona State went on to score two more goals before halftime and went into the locker room with a 4-1 advantage.
Central Arkansas gave up goals in the 48th and 54th minute, ultimately falling down seven goals to one.
Freshman Sydney Brough would create the best chance for the Bears in the second half after her 84th minute strike forced a save from the Arizona State keeper.
COACH JEREMY BISHOP QUOTES “It’s great to be able to get out on the field with an opponent of that caliber and compete with them. To play against a team where at least half of their starting lineup is national team players from all over the world is a great experience, something we can learn and draw experience from. We are ready to get home, get back to work and be ready for our home opener Friday night.”
ON DECK The Bears will look to bounce back Friday evening as they host Missouri State in their home opener at the Bill Stephens Complex. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The University of Central Arkansas Bears piled up 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter on Thursday night to knock off the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 35-28 in the season opener at Houchens-Smith Stadium.
The FCS Bears downed the FBS Hilltoppers for the second consecutive time following a 28-7 win back in 2009 on the same field. This time, UCA overcame a 28-14 deficit to midway through the third quarter and put together scoring drives that covered 64 yards (7 plays), 80 yards (1 play) and 74 yards (5 plays), the latter with just 6:51 remaining, to pull off the upset again.
Two defensive stands by the Bears, the final one with just 46 seconds remaining, sealed UCA’s third victory over an FBS opponent. The Bears amassed 176 yards on just 12 plays in the fourth quarter and held the Hilltoppers to 140 yards on 24 plays and no points.
“I thought our guys fought, they believed in our plan,” said UCA head coach Nathan Brown. “Coach (Chad) Williams, Coach (Ken) Collums and Coach (Ryan) Howard, our coordinators, did a great job with their plans. Our players trusted them and that’s what it’s about in a big game like this against an FBS opponent. They’re a good football team. They’ve got a lot of good players, some really good length on the D-line.
“We had a lot of new faces that were having to learn on the fly. But man, what a great fourth quarter. And that’s something I told our guys… Last year’s team may have struggled and may have lost (the game), because we lost a lot of close ones in the fourth quarter. But I thought we learned from that and I think our guys paid attention to details and made plays when it mattered.’
The Bears, facing their second 14-point deficit of the night heading into the fourth quarter, cut the margin to 28-21 on the first play of the period when sophomore quarterback Breylin Smith hit sophomore receiver Lujuan Winningham with a 20-yard touchdown pass, his second of what would be three touchdown receptions on the night.
The Hilltoppers then missed a field goal after UCA’s defense held and the Bears pulled off a halfback pass from their own 20 yard line to tie the game. Senior running back Carlos Blackman found a wide open Lujuan Winningham in stride for 80 yards and a touchdown to make it 28-28 with 9:59 remaining.
A quick three-and-out for WKU gave the ball back to UCA at its own 26 with 8:53 left to play. Smith passed 38 yards to junior running back Kierre Crossley and 35 yards to Winningham down to the WKU 1. Blackman went in from there to give the Bears their first lead of the night at 35-28. UCA then turned to its defense, which recorded a pair of interceptions (Robert Rochelle, Duke Upshaw) but had to play the final three quarters without Upshaw, who was injured after his second career interception.
Rochell, a junior cornerback from Shreveport, broke up a pass on fourth down on WKU’s initial drive. After a UCA punt put the Hilltoppers at their own 22 with 2:30 remaining, the Bears allowed the Hilltoppers to reach the 33 before forcing an incomplete pass on fourth down.
“I thought the fourth quarter, we believed,” said Brown. “As soon as we got that game tied, then we got a big stop on the field goal, we knew we were going to take a shot with the halfback pass. Not ideal conditions to be backed up on your own (20), that’t not really where you script it to happen. But Coach Collums looked at me asked if I was good with it and I said let’s go get it. And obviously they bit on it and Lujuan was able to take it down and score.’
Winningham, a sophomore from Humble, Texas, finished with eight receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns, all career highs. He caught 12 passes for 158 yards and one touchdown all of last season. True freshman Tyler Hudson added four receptions for 59 yards and another score.
“Just two amazing athletes, two young guys,’ said Brown. “Tyler and Lujuan made them hurt and Breylin put it where it needed to be. The offensive line gave protection when we needed protection most. We made plays.’
Smith, who was playing for the first time since a broken ankle sidelined him in Game 4 of the 2018 season, was his old efficient self, completing 20 of 28 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. In the first half alone, Smith was 14 of 17 (77.8 percent) for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears dug themselves an early two-touchdown hole after the Hilltoppers scored on their first play from scrimmage with a 68-yard touchdown run, then made it 14-0 with a 9-play, 56-yard drive at the 6:16 mark of the first quarter.
Two nice completions from Smith to Hudson, and another to Crossley got the Bears down to the WKU 6 at the close of the quarter. However, Blackman was stopped for no gain on fourth down on the first play of the second period to end the UCA threat. The Bears got on the board with 8:59 left in the half when Smith threaded a pass Winningham from 23 yards out on fourth down to close the gap to 14-7.
The Hilltoppers answered UCA’s score with a quarterback keeper from the three with 3:03 left in the half, good for a 21-7 lead. The Bears then worked their two-minute offense to perfection, aided by a pass interference on the Hilltoppers. Passes of 12 and 11 yards to Winningham set up a 4-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Hudson with :23 left, bringing the Bears within 21-14 at the half.
The Hilltoppers pushed their lead to 28-14 six minutes into the second half with a 10-yard touchdown run by Gaej Walker that capped a 7-play, 60-yard drive before UCA put together its dominant fourth quarter.
The Bears finished with 424 yards of total offense, averaging 7.3 yards per play. Defensively, transfer linebacker Malik Wilson had a team-high eight tackles, while Rochell and Isaiah Macklin had seven each.
UCA returns to the road next Saturday, facing FCS Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn. Game time is 2 p.m.
Total Offensive Yards
Time Of Possession
12:45 – WKU – WALKER, G. 68 yd run (MUNSON, C. kick ), 1 plays, 68 yards, TOP 0:12
06:16 – WKU – SIMON, J. 5 yd pass from DUNCAN, S. (MUNSON, C. kick ) 9 plays, 56 yards, TOP 3:47
08:59 – UCA – Winningham, Luj 23 yd pass from Smith, Breylin (Ray, Hayden kick ) 8 plays, 70 yards, TOP 3:11
03:03 – WKU – DUNCAN, S. 3 yd run (MUNSON, C. kick ), 12 plays, 83 yards, TOP 5:51
00:26 – UCA – Hudson, Tyler 4 yd pass from Smith, Breylin (Ray, Hayden kick ) 9 plays, 75 yards, TOP 2:37
08:54 – WKU – WALKER, G. 10 yd run (MUNSON, C. kick ), 7 plays, 60 yards, TOP 3:41
14:55 – UCA – Winningham, Luj 20 yd pass from Smith, Breylin (Ray, Hayden kick ) 7 plays, 64 yards, TOP 2:33
09:59 – UCA – Winningham, Luj 80 yd pass from Blackman, Carlo (Ray, Hayden kick ) 1 plays, 80 yards, TOP 0:11
06:51 – UCA – Blackman, Carlo 1 yd run (Ray, Hayden kick ), 5 plays, 74 yards, TOP 2:02