By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The ACU football team finished its regular season with a loss, but head coach Chris Thomsen knew the season wasn’t over just yet.
“I wasn’t really worried about it,” Thomsen said. “I knew we were in.”
The Southwest regional committee announced Sunday that the Wildcats would play in the program’s first NCAA Division II playoffs despite losing to Midwestern State 46-30 on Saturday.
“I was relieved,” running back Taber Minner said. “We’ve worked so hard and it’s paid off for us.”
ACU received the last spot in the playoffs after securing the No. 6 seed in the regional rankings and will move on to play West Texas A&M in Canyon on Nov. 18. West Texas won its second straight Lone Star Conference championship and spot in the playoffs by claiming the No. 3 seed in region after defeating Tarleton State on Saturday.
Thomsen said the level of competition ACU played against and its 8-2 overall regional record helped keep them in the top six. ACU beat out 9-2 Pittsburg State, who had one more win than the Wildcats and missed the playoffs by one spot.
“We took care of business in eight ball games,” Thomsen said. “Our wins were simply against better teams.”
Two of the biggest reasons the Wildcats were able move on to the postseason was their wins over West Texas and Southeastern Oklahoma. Both teams finished the season on top of their divisions in the LSC and West Texas completed its season with a conference best 10-1 record.
“Anytime there is a team with 10 wins, you know they’re a good team,” Thomsen said.
In addition to ACU and West Texas, Midwestern secured its postseason position by obtaining the No. 4 seed after its win over the Wildcats. The Mustangs stamped their fourth-straight win and scored more than any other team this season against the Wildcats. Midwestern quarterback Daniel Polk, named LSC South Offensive Player of the Week, threw for four touchdowns and 205 yards, while running back Ulysses Odoms led the Mustangs in rushing with 155 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
“They came out and played a great game,” said cornerback Corey Jordan. “They wanted it.”
ACU quarterback Billy Malone was 25-47 and threw for 263 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
Two of those touchdowns were to wide receiver Jerale Badon, who had eight catches for 117 yards. Wide receiver Chris Morris passed the century mark as well with 106 yards on eight catches. Morris also had the Wildcats’ longest reception of 32 yards.