Archive for September, 2017

College football: Week 4

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

It was a nice, relaxing weekend for Razorback fans.

An open date, in other words.

No need to worry about a lack of offensive production, defensive breakdowns or poor game management by the coaching staff.

Is this the point we’ve reached in this state?

Apparently so.

It has come to this: The 11 a.m. kickoff slot (the one usually reserved for the likes of Northwestern, Iowa State, Connecticut and Kansas) in each of the next two games; two teams badly in need of victories with depressed fan bases and coaches on the hot seat; rumors of fights in practice; angry callers to talk-radio shows.

The record was 5-3 on the picks last week as the Great American Conference threw me for a loop. I just didn’t see Harding, Henderson and Ouachita all losing at home to Oklahoma teams. I still think the cream (meaning the Arkansas teams) will rise to the top of the GAC during the course of an 11-game season.

We’re 18-5 for the season and ready to go another round, starting with two games in the DFW Metroplex that are awfully hard to pick.

Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 29 — Flip a coin on this one. These are two programs in search of answers. Arkansas, which is 1-1, looked bad in its 28-7 loss to TCU but has had two weeks to prepare for the Aggies. Texas A&M is 2-1 with a head coach, Kevin Sumlin, who seems to survive on a day-to-day basis in College Station. Arkansas has an offense that ranks 116th nationally in passing and 56th in rushing. That kind of production won’t win many games in the Southeastern Conference. We’ll give the slight edge to the Aggies based on the fact that they’ve dominated Arkansas in recent years, including a 45-24 victory over the Hogs last season. The Razorbacks won the first three games between these two teams in Arlington (2009-11) but have lost the last three in AT&T Stadium from 2014-16.

Arkansas State 39, SMU 37 — ASU didn’t get to play Miami in Jonesboro two weeks ago, but the Red Wolves did have an opportunity to beat up on poor ol’ UAPB a week later. ASU could have named the score. The final was 48-3 as Red Wolf quarterback Justice Hansen was 24 of 31 passing for 336 yards in only three quarters of play. He had five touchdown passes, tying the school record set by Fredi Knighten in the 2015 GoDaddy Bowl. Visiting Arkansans who want a full day of football can easily make it to the Arkansas-Texas A&M game in Arlington at 11 a.m. and then go to Gerald Ford Stadium in Dallas in time to watch 1-1 ASU and 2-1 SMU square off at 6 p.m. Arkansas State played well in a loss to Nebraska to open the season. SMU started the year with wins of 58-14 over Stephen F. Austin and 54-32 over North Texas before falling last Saturday by a final of 56-36 to TCU. Expect this to be an exciting, high-scoring game.

Jackson State 21, UAPB 19 — The Golden Lions are 1-2 and make a trip to Jackson, Miss., to take on an 0-3 Jackson State team that has lost 63-0 to TCU, 17-15 to Tennessee State and 36-21 to Grambling. We’ll give the edge to the home team in a battle between two programs that are likely to struggle the entire season.

Arkansas Tech 47, Southern Nazarene 28 — Tech and Southern Nazarene have been the more pleasant surprises during the first three weeks of the GAC season. The Wonder Boys upset preseason favorite Southern Arkansas in Russellville to start the current campaign, went on the road to defeat Henderson and then returned to Russellville to demolish Oklahoma Baptist by a final score of 58-21. Quarterback Ty Reasnor was 14 of 19 passing for 264 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday’s game for Arkansas Tech. Southern Nazarene, the whipping boy since entering the conference, is off to a 2-1 start that no one saw coming. This is the week that reality hits against a Tech team that has superior talent at almost every position.

Harding 30, Oklahoma Baptist 20 — What a difference a year makes. Harding was 11-0 in the regular season a year ago and won its first two games in the NCAA Division II playoffs. But the Bisons find themselves 0-3 in 2017 after a shocking 28-27 loss to Southern Nazarene in a game played at Searcy. Harding led 27-14 in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Nazarene scored a touchdown with 49 seconds remaining, recovered an onside kick and scored again with 29 seconds left. This is the week that Harding gets well against 0-3 Oklahoma Baptist.

Ouachita 42, East Central Oklahoma 32 — Ouachita and Southeastern Oklahoma both came into their game at Arkadelphia last Saturday with 2-0 records and a chance to be tied with Arkansas Tech atop the GAC standings. Southeastern escaped Cliff Harris Stadium with a 41-35 victory after the Ouachita defense failed to show up in the first half. The Savage Storm scored on all five first-half possessions. Southeastern led by 20 points at the end of three quarters, but Ouachita stormed back with two quick touchdowns. The Tigers, however, were unable to score on their final two possessions. It was the first time for Southeastern to beat Ouachita in Arkadelphia since 1999. A mad group of Tigers goes to Ada, Okla., this Saturday to take on a 1-2 East Central team that lost 49-7 to UAM last weekend.

Henderson 26, Southwestern Oklahoma 16 — What’s wrong with the Reddies? A lot of people are asking that question this week. After all, Henderson won three of the first six GAC titles. The Reddies find themselves 1-2 after a 36-30 loss to a Northwestern Oklahoma team that came in at 0-2. Henderson went ahead with a  field goal with 3:24 left in the game that made the score 30-28. But Northwestern scored with 1:32 remaining, leading to some soul searching this week at the School With A Heart. Southwestern won its opener at UAM but has since fallen to Ouachita by 28 points and and Southern Arkansas by 24 points. Expect this to be the week that Henderson starts getting its act together.

Southern Arkansas 38, Northwestern Oklahoma 33 — After that season-opening loss  at Arkansas Tech, the Muleriders have bounced back for victories over Harding and Southwestern Oklahoma. In the 38-14 victory in Magnolia against Southwestern, Mulerider quarterback Barrett Renner was 18 of 29 passing with three touchdowns. Northwestern is much improved this year. It played Ouachita and UAM tough before the win over Henderson. Expect the Rangers to give the Muleriders all they can handle out in Alva on Saturday night.

Southeastern Oklahoma 44, UAM 40 — It’s 3-0 Southeastern hosting 2-1 UAM in Durant in one of the better games of the week. Boll Weevil quarterback Cole Sears was 23 of 34 passing for 383 yards and four touchdowns in UAM’s 49-7 win over East Central Oklahoma. Sears also rushed for 70 yards. He will need to have another big night this Saturday since Southeastern is beginning to feel as if it can compete for a GAC title.

 

 

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Rex’s Rankings: After three weeks

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Arkansas high school teams did well against out-of-state competition last Friday.

Springdale Har-Ber shut out Jenks, Okla.

Pulaski Academy demolished Bossier City Parkway.

Bentonville West defeated Muskogee, Okla.

Fayetteville took Bishop Dunne out of Dallas to overtime.

Junction City beat traditional north Louisiana powerhouse Haynesville by four touchdowns.

Things get serious this week as conference play cranks up.

Here are the rankings after three weeks of the 2017 season:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Greenwood
  5. Pulaski Academy
  6. Bentonville West
  7. Cabot
  8. El Dorado
  9. Little Rock Christian
  10. Wynne

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Bentonville West
  5. Cabot

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. El Dorado
  3. Benton
  4. West Memphis
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Wynne
  4. Nettleton
  5. White Hall

CLASS 4A

  1. Prairie Grove
  2. Pea Ridge
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Ashdown
  5. Joe T. Robinson

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. Charleston
  3. Junction City
  4. Newport
  5. Mayflower

CLASS 2A

  1. Rison
  2. Mount Ida
  3. Foreman
  4. McCrory
  5. Danville

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The remarkable Roaf family

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Dr. Clifton Roaf of Pine Bluff died last week.

If you’re a sports fan, you probably know more about his son than you know about Dr. Roaf. After all, Willie Roaf was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

I can tell you this: Dr. Roaf was one of the most inspiring men I’ve ever met. I came to know him when I worked as the director of corporate communications for Simmons Bank. He served on the bank’s board and also on the board of the Simmons Foundation.

His prayers before foundation board luncheons at the Simmons Building in downtown Pine Bluff were legendary, as were the pep talks he would give when things weren’t going as well as he thought they should be going in southeast Arkansas.

No one ever loved Pine Bluff more than Dr. Roaf. In a town where race relations have long been an issue, he was the consistent voice of reason.

He was just one part of the amazing Roaf family.

His wife, the late Andree Layton Roaf, became the first black woman to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court when she was appointed by Gov. Jim Guy Tucker to succeed retiring Justice Steele Hays in January 1995. She wasn’t eligible to run for a full term on the high court but was appointed by Gov. Mike Huckabee to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, where she served for almost a decade. Andree Roaf died in 2009.

Sports Illustrated has had a number of talented writers through the years, and Gary Smith rates near the top of that list. In 1993, Smith wrote about the Roaf family.

“She carries a book with her,” Smith wrote of Andree Roaf. “She always does. Tonight it’s ‘The Fountainhead’ by Ayn Rand. She walks to the framed photographs that cover the top of the piano. Heads. Suits. Ties. Smiles. They are the prologue to her tale. They must be revealed first.

“She points to her grandfather, who won a scholarship to Yale in the early 1900s, graduated and became a teacher and the executive director of the Norfolk, Va., YMCA. Then to her other grandfather, a college graduate, superintendent of a school for orphans and wayward children.

“There’s her mother, Phoebe. Top five in her high school class, scholarship to Talladega College, honors graduate, master’s degree from Michigan State.

“And her father, William. Master’s degree from Fisk, director of equal employment opportunity for the Federal Reserve System, local executive director in the Urban League, poet, thespian, community leader.

“Here’s her sister, Mary. Honor student, master’s degree from New York University, former assistant postmaster general, now director of communications for the Child Welfare League of America. Next, her late sister, Serena. Honor student, Michigan State grad, clarinet player, advertising copywriter.

“Over here is Andree’s husband, Cliff, co-valedictorian of his high school class, degree in dentistry from Howard, member of the school board in Pine Bluff for 21 years. … Next to him there’s Andree herself. Honor student, Michigan State grad, law review, second in her law class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a 3.78 grade point average. … Look, there’s Andree’s oldest child, Phoebe. Presidential scholar, cum laude graduate of Harvard, master’s degree from Princeton, research officer for a nonprofit organization designing programs for disadvantaged youths. And Andree’s second child, Mary. Honor student, winner of two state oratory contests, graduate of Georgetown, seventh-grade teacher at an inner-city school in Washington, D.C.”

And then there was Willie, one of the greatest offensive tackles to ever play the game.

Willie has often told reporters that his mother would have preferred that he become a doctor or an attorney. He was attracting so little interest from college recruiters as a football player at Pine Bluff High School that he considered switching to basketball.

Finally, Willie decided to play football at Louisiana Tech University. He was 6-4, 220 pounds when he went to Tech, small for a college offensive lineman. By his sophomore season, he was 6-5, 300 pounds.

Louisiana Tech played Alabama, Baylor, South Carolina, Ole Miss and West Virginia, allowing professional scouts plenty of opportunities to watch him by his senior season. Willie was picked in the first round of the 1993 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. He was the eighth selection overall and the first offensive lineman to be drafted that year. Willie spent the first nine years of a 13-year NFL career with the Saints. He started 131 games for New Orleans and helped the franchise to its first playoff win, a 2000 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams.

A torn ligament in his right knee forced Willie to miss the second half of the 2001 season. He was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he made the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons. Roaf was voted to the Pro Bowl 11 times in 13 seasons. He earned a spot on the NFL All-Decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s.

Clifton Roaf was one of nine children who grew up in a four-room house at Pine Bluff. Smith described Dr. Roaf’s father as a man who “loaded railroad freight, worked fields, sawed wood and pushed mops to survive.”

Pine Bluff was among the most segregated cities in the South in those days. Dr. Roaf would later say that one could “look at an address and tell whether the person was white or black.”

“Sure he had been his high school’s co-valedictorian, but sports had always been his true love,” Smith wrote. “He had spent Friday nights playing football and Saturday mornings picking cotton, and he had become an all-state defensive lineman talented enough to do what was virtually unheard of for a black teenager in Arkansas in the 1950s — win a scholarship to a Big Ten school. But here he was (at Michigan State), hobbling through his senior year on a kneeful of mush, teaching freshman lineman how to pass rush, no longer even on the roster.”

Dr. Roaf had attended all-black Merrill High School at Pine Bluff.

In 1958, one of the city’s largest employers, International Paper Co., paid a Michigan State education professor named Raymond Hatch to evaluate the city’s schools. Dr. Roaf told the Pine Bluff Commercial years later: “What he found, of course, was a big discrepancy between the educational facilities at Pine Bluff High School and those at Merrill. They told him that they perhaps had someone who could go from this small segregated school in Pine Bluff and matriculate through a major white university, and that someone was I. Dr. Hatch was instrumental in me getting the scholarship to go there.”

Dr. Roaf boarded a train in 1959 and vowed that he would never return to the South. He had his train ticket, a copy of his financial aid agreement with Michigan State, a bag of clothes and $30.

Clifton Roaf was the first of several dozen black players from the South who were recruited during the tenure of legendary Coach Duffy Daugherty. Football success eluded Dr. Roaf at Michigan State, though.

“When I got hurt again in the Green and White game my second year, it ended for all practical purposes my athletic career,” he told the Commercial.

He met Andree, however.

She had been born in Nashville, Tenn., in a family where academics were stressed.

“To think how innocent it all seemed,” Smith wrote. “How benignly it began. A lovely spring Saturday in 1961 at Michigan State. A blind date for Cliff Roaf and Andree Layton, arranged by the girlfriend of Cliff’s teammate, Herb Adderly. Andree, a knockout — that was the scouting report. A little quirky perhaps. Rarely went to parties. Never had a boyfriend. Burned a hole clean through her sheet and mattress pad at age 11 with a hot light bulb while reading under the blanket at midnight so her parents wouldn’t know.

“A knockout bookworm, a wonderful anomaly. Cliff was intrigued. Never mind his right knee, which burned like dripping candle wax from his collision with another player that afternoon in the annual Green-White intrasquad game. Never mind the assistant coach’s order that Cliff, a sophomore backup defensive lineman for the Spartans, go to the campus hospital that night. A knockout bookworm. Besides, if they said the knee needed surgery, it would mean weeks of missed classes, certain failure in physics and chemistry, no college degree for a young man whose family had no money, none, to pay for an extra semester once his four-year academic-athletic scholarship ran out. Cliff was going to get a college degree. He found a cane. He hobbled through the date with Andree. They talked ideas. They talked books. His eyes kept growing bigger. So did his knee. It was a mango in the morning.

“The knee would never recover. Duffy Daugherty made the pain worse, burying Cliff in the depth chart for insubordination. All in one day Cliff lost a football career and gained a wife.

“‘They went into my living room at home and read — that’s how they dated,’ recalls Andree’s father, William Layton, a Renaissance man who loved writing and reading and acting and dancing and singing.”

Though she was born in Nashville, Andree later grew up in Ohio and Michigan. She wanted to pursue a career in biological sciences and graduated in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in zoology. Cliff and Andree were married in July 1963. She was a bacteriologist for the Michigan Department of Health in Lansing from 1963-65. Andree then worked as a research biologist for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in Washington, D.C., while her husband was training at Howard to be a dentist.

The couple moved to Pine Bluff in 1969 so Dr. Roaf could begin his practice. Andree was a staff assistant for the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency from 1971-75 and then worked as a biologist with the National Center for Toxicological Research. She began driving to Little Rock for law school in 1975 and graduated in 1978. She taught at the law school for a year before joining the Pine Bluff firm Walker Roaf Campbell Ivory & Dunklin in 1979.

“I had to get another degree of some kind,” Andree Roaf said of her decision to attend law school. “In my family, if you only have a B.A., you feel like a dropout.”

In addition to being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, Willie Roaf was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

“It’s amazing to think a kid like me from Pine Bluff, barely recruited to college and signing with a program just entering NCAA Division I, could end up one of the best to play the game at my position,” he said. “It shows young football players from Arkansas that with a lot of hard work and great character you can achieve anything. I had great coaches and teammates along the way to help guide me. I always competed hard and strived to be the best.”

It didn’t hurt a bit to have Clifton Roaf and Andree Layton Roaf as parents.

They were a remarkable Arkansas couple.

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College football: Week 3

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

It was a cold, cold room that Jeff Long walked into Monday for his speech to the Little Rock Touchdown Club.

Razorback fans aren’t happy, and who can blame them following an awful performance against TCU last Saturday afternoon in Fayetteville. It was 28-7 at the end as the Horned Frogs avenged last year’s double overtime loss to Arkansas in Fort Worth. This was the first TCU win in Fayetteville since 1984.

TCU outgained Arkansas 195-129 on the ground and was 10 of 14 on third down. Arkansas was just four of 14 on third down.

The Horned Frogs led in time of possession, 33:52 to 26:08.

The Hogs don’t have a game this week, thus giving those frustrated fans a chance to see other college teams across the state.

UAPB is at Arkansas State. ASU, unlike the Razorbacks, will play other Arkansas schools.

In Conway, UCA hosts Southeastern Louisiana.

And all six of the state’s Great American Conference teams host squads from Oklahoma. That means two games at Arkadelphia along with contests at Magnolia, Searcy, Monticello and Russellville.

This just might be the week when some dismayed Razorback fanatics find an enjoyable, less expensive alternative. They might realize that watching college football can be fun at a place where the parking is free, the tickets are cheap, donations to the scholarship fund aren’t required and the concession lines aren’t long.

We were 5-2 on the picks last week, making the record 13-2 for the season.

Let’s get to the games for Week 3:

Arkansas State 49, UAPB 13 — It was a shame that we couldn’t see what the Red Wolves could do at home against Miami following a solid effort by ASU at Nebraska in the first week of the season. UAPB is 1-1, having defeated Morehouse in the opener before going on the road last weekend for a 52-3 loss at Akron. Akron, which is coached by former Auburn head man Terry Bowden, had lost 52-0 the previous week at Penn State. ASU should be able to pretty much name the score in this one.

UCA 30, Southeastern Louisiana 19 — The Bears were thumped in their season opener at Kansas State but rebounded for a 41-13 win at Murray State. Hayden Hildebrand passed for 286 yards and three touchdowns for UCA. The Bears outgained the Racers 312-91 in the first half and had a 31-6 lead at the break. Southeastern Louisiana comes into Conway with an 0-2 record following losses of 51-48 to Louisiana-Lafayette and 28-23 to Bethune-Cookman.

Ouachita 37, Southeastern Oklahoma 28 — After two weeks of play, there are only three 2-0 teams in the 12-team GAC. Two of the three play Saturday night at Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia. Southeastern Oklahoma started the season with wins over two of the league’s weakest teams, 58-0 over Southern Nazarene and 21-17 over Oklahoma Baptist. The Savage Storm, who are 2-0 for the first time since 2011, will be hurt by the loss of quarterback C.B. Cantwell, who went down in the first half of last week’s game. Ouachita opened the season with a 31-28 win over Northwestern Oklahoma and followed that up with a 38-10 victory last Saturday night at Southwestern Oklahoma. Drew Harris from Benton had three rushing touchdowns for the Tigers.

Henderson 31, Northwestern Oklahoma 18 — Henderson, which has won three of the first six conference titles, went on the road and knocked off defending GAC champion Harding in the first week of the season. But the Reddies came down to earth quickly last Saturday with a 26-3 loss to Arkansas Tech in Arkadelphia. Henderson should have a bit easier time of it this Saturday night at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. The Reddies host a Northwestern Oklahoma team that’s 0-2 following losses to Ouachita and UAM.

Southern Arkansas 25, Southwestern Oklahoma 17 — The GAC coaches picked Southern Arkansas to win the conference, but the Muleriders slipped up at Arkansas Tech in the first week of the season. The home opener last Saturday night in Magnolia was a different story as the Muleriders beat Harding, 35-24. SAU ended an 11-game losing streak to Harding. The Muleriders had not beaten a Bison team in Magnolia since 1993. The Magnolia advantage should help again as SAU hosts a 1-1 Southwestern Oklahoma team (the Bulldogs beat UAM and then lost to Ouachita) this week.

Harding 44, Southern Nazarene 20 — Harding was 11-0 in the regular season in 2016. So it has to be a tough pill to swallow when the season begins at 0-2 with losses to Arkansas Tech and Southern Arkansas. Southern Nazarene has been the GAC whipping boy since joining the conference, but SNU upset East Central Oklahoma last week. The visit to Searcy won’t be as pleasant as that game. The young Bisons (Harding lost most of the starters from last year’s playoff squad) are hungry for a victory and will get it this Saturday night.

UAM 21, East Central Oklahoma 15 — The Boll Weevils are one play away from being 2-0. They had a 32-yard field goal attempt blocked in the final seconds of the season opener against Southwestern Oklahoma and lost by a point. They came back last Saturday on the road in Alva, Okla., with a 37-35 win over Northwestern Oklahoma. East Central is reeling following its loss to Southern Nazarene.

Arkansas Tech 36, Oklahoma Baptist 23 — Tech shocked Southern Arkansas in the season opener at Russellville and then went on the road to Arkadelphia to whip Henderson. It was one of the biggest road victories for the Tech program in years. Quarterback Ty Reasnor was 15 of 25 passing for the Wonder Boys for 124 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for two touchdowns. Cua Rose had three interceptions for Tech to tie a school record. Can the Wonder Boy magic continue? It will for at least one more week against an 0-2 Oklahoma Baptist team.

 

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Rex’s Rankings: After two weeks

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Our No. 1 team overall — Bryant — survived in overtime with a one-point victory at Fayetteville as the Purple Dogs’ two-point conversion attempt failed.

But our No. 1 team in Class 6A — Jonesboro — went down to Conway.

Our No. 1 team in Class 4A — Nashville — went down to De Queen.

So the rankings are different as we head into Week 3. Here goes:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Greenwood
  5. Pulaski Academy
  6. Fayetteville
  7. Bentonville West
  8. El Dorado
  9. Little Rock Christian
  10. Wynne

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Fayetteville
  5. Bentonville West

CLASS 6A

  1. Greenwood
  2. El Dorado
  3. Benton
  4. West Memphis
  5. Jonesboro

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Wynne
  4. Morrilton
  5. Harrison

CLASS 4A

  1. Prairie Grove
  2. Pea Ridge
  3. Arkadelphia
  4. Ashdown
  5. Joe. T. Robinson

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. Harding Academy
  3. Charleston
  4. Junction City
  5. Newport

CLASS 2A

  1. Rison
  2. Mount Ida
  3. Foreman
  4. McCrory
  5. Danville

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College football: Week 2

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

We were 8-0 on the picks last week, a performance you shouldn’t come to expect on a weekly basis.

This is, in a sense, the real season opener for the Razorbacks following that glorified scrimmage last week at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. Arkansas’ 49-7 victory over Florida A&M was about what one should have expected. TCU didn’t have a challenge either, rolling to a 65-0 victory over Jackson State from the SWAC.

Miami decided not to come to Jonesboro to take on Arkansas State. Thus the spotlight in the state after that game in Fayetteville falls on 1-0 Arkansas Tech at 1-0 Henderson and 0-1 Harding at 0-1 Southern Arkansas. The winner of the Tech-Henderson game has to be considered the early favorite in the Great American Conference. The GAC coaches picked Southern Arkansas No. 1 and Harding No. 2 in their preseason poll. The loser of the game at Magnolia on Saturday night likely will already be out of the running for a GAC title. It’s do or die time for those two teams in a league where all 11 games are conference games.

Here are the picks for Week 2:

TCU 37, Arkansas 34 — Arkansas leads the series 44-23-2, including last year’s 41-38 win in double overtime at Fort Worth. Prior to last season, the teams had not played since Arkansas left the Southwest Conference for the Southeastern Conference in 1992. From 1959-91, Arkansas won 30 of 33 games in this series. TCU last won at Fayetteville in 1984. Coach Gary Patterson has changed things at TCU. He doesn’t have two down seasons in a row, and last year was a down season. The Horned Frogs haven’t gone on the road to play an SEC team since 1997 when they lost at Vanderbilt. Freshman tailback Chase Hayden needs to have another good game for the Razorbacks. He had 120 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries against Florida A&M. Hayden was the first true freshman to rush for more than 100 yards for Arkansas in his first game since Alex Collins did it in 2013.

UCA 30, Murray State 26 — It was a long night for the Bears at Kansas State as they fell in their opener, 55-19. Kansas State led only 17-16 midway through the second quarter before running off 24 consecutive points. UCA trailed 38-16 at the half. While UCA was playing its “money game,” Murray State was picking on a Division II school in a 67-7 victory over a woeful Kentucky Wesleyan squad. The Racers were 4-7 overall and 4-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference last year year, finishing in a tie for fifth. They lost their star quarterback, K.D Humphries, to graduation. Even though it’s on the road, this should be a victory for the Bears.

Akron 46, UAPB 17 –The Zips are in their sixth season under Terry Bowden, the former Auburn head coach. They played their “money game” last week, losing 52-0 at Penn State. Akron returns 15 starters from last year’s team. UAPB, which was 1-10 a year ago, won its opener last Saturday in Pine Bluff against Morehouse, 23-10. The Golden Lions trailed 10-0 before scoring 17 points in the third quarter.

Henderson 29, Arkansas Tech 27 — It’s an early showdown in the GAC at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia on Saturday night. Harding went 11-0 during the regular season a year ago but lost its opener in Searcy to the Reddies, 28-20. It was the first home loss for Harding in almost two years. Henderson, which won three of the first five GAC titles, now has a 28-game road winning streak. So the good news for Tech may be the fact that Henderson is playing at home, where it lost big games to Harding and Ouachita a year ago. Tech scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to come from behind and shock Southern Arkansas, 28-21. Ty Reasnor threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Drew Wade with 9:46 left and then ran 10 yards for the winning score with 2:54 remaining. This should be a fun game between two talented teams.

Southern Arkansas 19, Harding 16 — Both teams are desperate for a victory even though we’re still in early September. Harding lost most of its starters off last year’s championship squad and has a new head coach. SAU, not used to being picked atop the conference, didn’t react well last week in Russellville when the pressure was on in the fourth quarter. We’ll give a slight edge to the home team in this one.

Ouachita 39, Southwestern Oklahoma 38 — Ouachita won its opener for an 11th consecutive season. The 31-28 victory came against a Northwestern Oklahoma squad that’s vastly improved from last year. Ouachita’s fifth-year senior quarterback, Austin Warford, was 14 of 21 passing for 200 yards and rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries. Kris Oliver, the Tigers’ starting tailback, left the game during the first drive with a sprained ankle. The Tigers will need him in Weatherford, Okla., this Saturday night. The Ouachita defense is suspect, meaning the Tigers probably will have to best opponents in high-scoring games this year to extend their streak of consecutive winning seasons to 10.

Northwestern Oklahoma 23, UAM 21 — As noted, Northwestern is much improved from the 4-7 team of a year ago. UAM had a chance to win at home with six seconds left Saturday, but a 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked and Southwestern Oklahoma left town with a 20-19 victory.

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Rex’s Rankings: After one week

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

The first week of the high school football season is in the books.

Benton came close yet again in the Salt Bowl in front of a crowd of more than 30,000 at War Memorial Stadium. But Bryant again got the victory.

Fayetteville is off to a 1-0 start in the Coach Billy Dawson era while his former team at Russellville was upset by Morrilton in the opener.

Some of the most impressive performances of the week belonged to Jonesboro, Greenwood, Bentonville West, El Dorado and Little Rock Christian.

Here are the rankings:

OVERALL

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Jonesboro
  5. Fayetteville
  6. Greenwood
  7. Pulaski Academy
  8. Bentonville West
  9. El Dorado
  10. Little Rock Christian

CLASS 7A

  1. Bryant
  2. Springdale Har-Ber
  3. North Little Rock
  4. Fayetteville
  5. Bentonville West

CLASS 6A

  1. Jonesboro
  2. Greenwood
  3. El Dorado
  4. Benton
  5. West Memphis

CLASS 5A

  1. Pulaski Academy
  2. Little Rock Christian
  3. Wynne
  4. Morrilton
  5. Alma

CLASS 4A

  1. Nashville
  2. Prairie Grove
  3. Pea Ridge
  4. Arkadelphia
  5. Ashdown

CLASS 3A

  1. Prescott
  2. Harding Academy
  3. Charleston
  4. Glen Rose
  5. Junction City

CLASS 2A

  1. Rison
  2. Mount Ida
  3. Foreman
  4. Hector
  5. McCrory

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