By Jared Fields, Sports Editor
In two games this season, the Wildcats have gone down to the wire in each game. Saturday’s game at Shotwell Stadium against Texas A&M-Commerce may not be any different.
Last week against a very talented Midwestern State team, Commerce pulled off a 27-25 win, their first win of the season.
“I think they have the edge coming in based on what they did last week against a great team,” Thomsen said. “Our guys are going to have to fight like crazy.”
Thomsen’s team knows how to fight. Last week the Wildcats came from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to win in overtime against Northeastern State.
“Our players don’t believe they’re out of it. That’s half the battle,” Thomsen said. “They always feel like we’ve got a chance.”
The Lions come into Saturday’s game 1-2, their first two losses coming to Southern Arkansas and Tarleton State. In last week’s game, Lions senior linebacker J.D. Hearn made 13 tackles and had an interception to earn LSC North Division Defensive Player of the Week honors. His interception in the second quarter led to a field goal.
“He’s a physical football player and did a real good job for them,” Thomsen said. “You’ve always got to be aware of where he is and run the ball away from him.”
Offensively for the Lions, senior running back Roger Daley racked up 135 yards on 13 carries. Of Daley’s 135 yards, 67 of them came on a touchdown run for the Lions’ final score of the game.
The Wildcats will have to play well in all aspects of the game to get their second win. However, the team has relied heavily on the play of its special teams unit to keep it in the first two games. In the first week, ACU returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and in the second game blocked a punt and a field goal.
“Obviously, it kept us in the first game, and you could make an argument that it won us the second game,” Thomsen said of the special teams performance. “Plays in the special teams have changed the game for us.”
In the win against Northeastern State, the Wildcats were without six pre-season starters due to injury. Two offensive and defensive linemen are out, as are free safety Omar Tejeda and outside linebacker Brandon Henry. Henry and offensive lineman Cody Savage are listed as questionable, but may see limited play.
Billy Malone is expected to return this week at quarterback after going out with a concussion in the third quarter of last week’s game. Malone has been monitored throughout the week and should be ready to go this weekend.
Thomsen said he is glad to be at home with a tough opponent coming to Abilene.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd and get the home field behind us to motivate us,” Thomsen said.
The game begins at 6 p.m. at Shotwell Stadium, with the gates opening at 5 p.m.