By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The Wildcat fourth quarter defensive pressure saved the game in the 24-18 season opening win over the University of Central Oklahoma. But it will take more than a last-minute defensive stand to get a win in Durant, Okla., Saturday against the best offense in the conference.
“This team will expose you if you are complacent,” Thomsen said. “To be successful we need to get more intense and maintain focus.”
ACU’s first away game will be against nationally ranked two-time LSC North Division champions Southeastern Oklahoma. If the Wildcats win on the road this weekend, it will be the first time ACU started a season 2-0 since 1997.
The No. 10 ranked Southeastern Savage Storm has already reached the 2-0 mark after defeating Northwestern Oklahoma State and Tarleton State, and leads the conference in total offensive production with 956 total yards and 478 yards per game.
In addition to having home advantage, the Savage Storm has history on its side. On top of last season’s 42-24 loss, Southeastern Oklahoma defeated the Wildcats four of the last five times the two have met.
The key to shutting down Southeastern’s offense is controlling the LSC North Division Preseason Offensive player of the Year and starting quarterback Justin Pitrucha. Pitrucha has thrown 510 yards and four touchdowns in the Storm’s two wins and already has one LSC North Division title under his belt.
ACU’s biggest weapon against Pitrucha will be LSC South Defensive Player of the Week, outside linebacker Marcus Brown. On top of last week’s game winning sack and forced fumble, Brown recorded nine tackles and helped hold the UCO offense to 262 total yards. University of Texas transfer free safety Bobby Tatum led the secondary with 10 tackles in his first game as a Wildcat.
Despite the success of the defense in the opener, Brown is unwilling to be overconfident.
“We are still hungry and want to prove ourselves by doing something we’ve never done before at ACU,” he said.
The defense was the spark that lit the Wildcats’ offense against UCO. After a scoreless first quarter, a Patrick Ellison interception paved the way for the Wildcats’ first of three touchdowns. But Thomsen is unwilling to rely on his defense to carry all the weight this week.
“We can’t wait on the defense to make plays,” said Thomsen “Your offense has to control the ball.”
ACU’s offense controlled the ball in the air and on the ground in its first victory. The offensive production was balanced as quarterback Billy Malone threw for 220 yards and one touchdown while running backs Taber Minner and Chancy Campbell combined for 155 yards and a touchdown each. The Wildcats’ two most productive plays were a 74-yard touchdown by Minner and a 43-yard grab by receiver Jarale Badon.
After playing Southeastern Saturday, ACU will return Sept. 23 to take on SW Oklahoma in its second home game of the season.