The Wildcats defeated Texas A&M-Commerce 20-14 in overtime at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. Drew Cuffee intercepted the ball and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown to win the game.
“It was an exciting game,” quarterback Zach Stewart said. “Obviously, you have to give a lot of credit to the defense. They played huge and picked the offense up at the end of the game to seal the win.”
The game was a sloppy battle to the finish.Â The Wildcats’ offense was able to move the ball, but they were plagued by three turnovers. Overall, they had 371 total yards compared to the Lions’ 182. The Wildcats improved to 3-0 for the season and 1-0 in conference, while the Lions fell to 0-3 for the season and 0-2 in conference.
The game was a field position battle in the first half. The rain was steady throughout the half, putting a damper on the teams’ performance. They were still tied at zero at halftime.
In the third quarter, quarterback Zach Stewart rushed 31 yards, setting up the second drive of the half that put the Wildcats on the board. The drive went 58 yards and was capped with a five-yard touchdown run by Daryl Richardson, which gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
The play for the extra point added some drama to the game. ACU initially failed to earn the extra point because of a bad snap, but got another attempt, because one of the Commerce players was offside. This one point became pivotal when the game ended up tied at the end of regulation.
Stewart threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats then ran the ball 62 yards to score on a Richardson rush and take a 14-7 lead with 6 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game.
It looked like ACU was going to win in regulation, but a scoreless Commerce offense drove down and tied the game with 32 seconds left. A 20-yard touchdown pass to receiver Taylor Fore brought the score to 14-13 with less than a minute left in the game. Fans wanted Guy Morrison to go for the win, but he elected to kick the extra point and play into overtime.
ACU won the coin toss in overtime and chose to play defense first. Drew Cuffee made an incredible interception off his hip in the first play of overtime before returning the ball 81 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Head coach Chris Thomsen was proud of his team’s performance in the face of such terrible weather conditions.
“The weather was a downpour, and we haven’t played in something like that in a really long time,” Thomsen said. “There were some things we had to adjust to as a team. I thought our guys did a good job of feeling the situation out and making adjustments and doing what they had to do to win the game.”