The Wildcats (2-1 overall) led 27-12 in the 3rd quarter, and withstood a 20-8 run by the Lumberjacks (0-4 overall, 0-2 conference) to improve to 2-0 in the Southland with a 35-32 win.
“It was a huge win and it was good for us that it went down to the last play,” head coach Ken Collums said. “We told our guys it was going to be a four quarter fight and it is a really good matchup just like last year.”
ACU’s offense picked up right where they left off from last week compiling 425 total yards. Junior quarterback Parker McKenzie went 19-for-33 for 236 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Sophomore running back De’Andre Brown rushed for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Cedric Gilbert dominated the SFA secondary snaring seven passes for 153 yards (21.9 average) and two touchdowns.
“I feel real confident in my play,” Gilbert said. “But I am thankful for the offensive lineman, my quarterback and my receivers.”
The offense was also sparked by redshirt freshman quarterback Dallas Sealey. Sealey completed 2-of-2 passes for 15 yards but did most of his damage on the ground rushing six times for 49 yards, good enough for second on the team.
However, ACU’s defense found itself in familiar territory giving up 577 total yards and 305 yards on the ground. SFA went on a nine-play, 71 yard scoring drive that ended with a Zach Conque to Justice Liggins 38-yard connection in the third to cut ACU’s lead to eight. The SFA scoring barrage would continue as junior running back Joshawa West would finish off a nine-play 67 yard scoring drive with a 21-yard touchdown run to cut ACU’s lead to one.
In the fourth, the Lumberjacks completed the comeback as Zach Conque found Robert Sylvester on an ACU blown coverage for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Conque was a tough out for the Wildcats all game as he pounded the Wildcats defense on the ground and through the air. He threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 86 yards and one touchdown.
ACU would not be roll over on the ensuing drive. The Wildcats went on an 11-play 75 yard, 4:57 statement drive to take back the lead with just 5:59 left in the fourth. Brown powered through for his third touchdown run on the night from 20-yards out.
ACU’s defense would finish the game by stopping the Lumberjacks on downs deep in Wildcat territory. The ‘Cats found a way to win despite a third consecutive poor defensive showing. The run defense has yet to hold an opponent under 200-yards rushing this year.
Sophomore linebacker Sam Denmark continued his strong play recording 18 tackles
“The fact is we have to do a better job against the run,” Collums said. “They very well could have won this game, but when you get a quarterback Like Zach Conque he’s a monster. Coach Dulin will get better, he doesn’t take it too well when they can run the ball like that.”
ACU travels to Conway, Arkansas next Saturday to take on coach Collums Alma Mater, Central Arkansas.