The University of Central Arkansas’ 28-23 victory over Arkansas State started suspiciously, said Bear coach Steve Campbell.
Before running the first play from scrimmage, UCA called a timeout.
"We had worked on things all week and then we lined up wrong on the first play; that was not good," Campbell said at Monday’s Bearbacker luncheon. "Then, we busted our second play. But once we found our sea legs, we played really, really well."
The victory was the first by UCA over a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team since Western Kentucky, which went 0-12 in 2009. It was the 10th victory by an FCS team over an FCS team his year.
Tremon Smith’s 47-yard punt return midway through the first quarter to give UCA a 7-3 lead "pretty much settled everybody down," Campbell said. "We told our players all week that we have good players, too."
Although giving up some big pass plays, the UCA defense dominated, yielding only 45 rushing yards on 54 plays and only four first down and five yards rushing the third quarter. The Bears forced four fumbles while intercepting two turnovers and didn’t turn the ball over, themselves.
"Our defense did a good job of making Arkansas State one-dimensional," Campbell said. "Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run and we slammed that door shut. When you devote a lot of resources to one thing, a lot of times you don’t have the resources for the other. They (the Red Wolvese) found some seams with their passing game, but when we do that, we want to tackle them. If we tackle before they reach the end zone, they have to run another play, then you can get a turnover, a sack or tackles them for a loss,
"Our game plan worked out as planned."
Campbell praised wide receiver Desmond Smith and linebacker George Odum, who had 11 tackles, a sacked, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.
"I told our youngr players if they want to model themselves after older players, they can find no better models than Des Smmith and George Odum," Campbell said. "Des made only five catches but they weere bigtime catches. But he also drew two interference calls that were first downs and made several tackles in pnt coverage and kickoff coverage. Odum did was all over the field and made some plays on special teams.
"Des could be a good defensive player and George a good offensive player.Tthose two guys just love to play football and don’t want to come off the field. Both do things that don’t show up in the statistics."
Even though quarterback Hayden Hildebrand had a net of -3 yards rushing, Campbell said he made five key plays with his feet in scrambling.
"He extended a play and found Brandon Cox in the corner of the end zone on one play and he bought some time on another to locate Jatavious Wilson for a pass that led to Antwon Wells’ touchdown."
The Bears (3-1, 2-0) return to Southland Conference play Saturday afternoon at Abilene Christian.
Even though ACU is the currrent focus, the victory over ASU could pay dividends as far as possible playoff ramifications.
"Last year, we were 7-2 in conference and didn’t get in," Campbell said. "A six-win team did. We defeated a team that won an FBS conference four out of five years and has been to a bowl five straight years. We beat them at their place. That has to look good on a resume."