By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
ACU had its chances against No. 5 West Texas A&M, but the Wildcats just didn’t convert.
In a Homecoming showdown of two of the best offenses in the country, unbeaten West Texas outgunned No. 21 ACU and converted when it counted most for the 41-31 win – West Texas converted eight of their 14 third down attempts, while ACU only managed two of its 13 thirddown tries.
The loss dropped ACU (6- 2) from seventh to 10th in the NCAA Division II Southwest regional poll and 5-1 in Lone Star Conference play, but ACU’s playoff hopes weren’t completely demolished. If the Wildcats win their last three games on the schedule, they still have a chance to make the top six of the poll and receive a bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
“It hurts to lose,” said senior cornerback Corey Jordan. “But it’s the LSC; the race is never done. All we got to do is come back next week and win.”
ACU will face two teams ranked higher in the region than the Wildcats in its last three games: fourth ranked and undefeated Tarleton State and eighth ranked Midwestern State.
f ACU defeats each of the higher-ranked LSC South opponents, and nonranked opponent Texas A&M Kingsville, the Wildcats may make the playoffs for the second-straight season.
“Great teams always come back from losses,” Jordan said. “When you lose, it’s not over.”
In a game that was plagued with penalties – West Texas had 18 penalties for 126 yards lost, and ACU had 12 penalties for 97 yards lost – the Wildcats came within one touchdown of the Buffs until West Texas kicker Jon Roberts made it a two-possession game with an 18-yard field goal that gave West Texas a 10-point lead with 3:34 left on the clock.
ACU drove down the field to the West Texas 39-yard line, but any chance of a comeback was nixed when West Texas safety Kyle Seals picked off junior quarterback Billy Malone.
“The only thing I can say is you got to give credit to West Texas, their guys came in and made plays,” said head coach Chris Thomsen.
West Texas, who had the nation’s top offense coming into the game, racked up a total of 511 yards and five touchdowns in their eighthstraight win of the season. Buffs’ quarterback Keith
Null threw a touchdown to four different receivers and finished the day with 360 passing yards, while running back Keithon Flemming recorded a touchdown and rushed for 113 yards on 18 attempts. Flemming out rushed ACU junior running back Bernard Scott, who ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries.
The Wildcat defense struggled most against West Texas tight end Kolo Kapanui, who led the Buffs in receiving after a career-high day in which he caught six passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
ACU’s offense racked up 436 yards yard of offense and was led by Scott.
Missed opportunities hurt ACU the most in its second loss of the season.
After pulling to an early 10-8 first quarter lead, ACU dropped its lead in the second quarter after West Texas took the lead with a four-touchdown quarter that put the Buffs up 31-17 at halftime.
The Buffs held the lead the rest of the game, and though the Wildcats came within a touchdown of the Buffs twice in the second half, ACU could not find the end zone to tie the game.
The loss dropped ACU’s national ranking in the American Football Coaches’ Association poll from No. 12 to No. 21, while 8-0 West Texas jumped up in rank from No. 6 to No. 5.