BETHANY — Regardless of what the season's record indicates and what some of the scores have looked like, Southern Nazarene coach Mike Cochran says his football team is making progress as it continues a transition from the NAIA to NCAA Division II.
“We just need to take a step every week to become the team we're capable of being,” he said.
Southern Nazarene fell to 0-3 with its 49-7 Great American Conference loss to Arkansas Tech Saturday night before 1,071 fans at SNU Field. The game was relatively close, 21-7, until late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, when Arkansas Tech turned three Crimson Storm turnovers into touchdowns.
Jonathan Keener's 44-yard TD run with 3:26 left in the third, and Ketrich Harmon's 6-yarder less than two minutes later, gave the Wonder Boys breathing room against an SNU team that offered the home crowd some hope for a half. Justin Owens added a 2-yard run with 12:39 left in the game that made it another loss by rout for Southern Nazarene, which is 2-12 since leaving the NAIA.
SNU has been outscored 180-41 this season, its first as a full-fledged football member of the Great American Conference.
“We just needed to come back and play well in the second half, and we didn't do that,” Cochran said. “But I talk to the kids all the time about how this is a process, and if they can understand that, then you can also do the little things a whole lot better.”
Harmon, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound bull of a running back, led Tech with 132 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. Owens added 36 yards and two TDs to help the Wonder Boys improve to 2-1.
Arkansas Tech had a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter after TD runs by Harmon and Owens, but Southern Nazarene countered with a seven-play, 77-yard drive capped by Dylan Terry's 20-yard touchdown pass to Jarod Martin. Even when Tech came back with a touchdown early in the second quarter, SNU was playing well enough that a 14-point deficit was close enough to overcome.
But two interceptions thrown by Terry, a Jakeil Everhart fumble and untimely penalties contributed to SNU's second-half failures.
Terry threw for a game-high 165 yards, but he was sacked three times. Chris Hunter led SNU rushers with 52 yards on 17 carries.