The Wildcats blew past LSC South foe Angelo State 38-14 in San Angelo on Saturday night. The win bettered ACU’s record to 7-0 on the season.
ACU entered the game holding firmly to its No. 2 national ranking, but after top-ranked Grand Valley State was upset by Hillsdale, ACU moved to No. 1 for the first time since 1983.
No. 23 ASU was in the national top 25 for the first time this season after winning five of its first six games; a loss to Division I Texas State was the only blemish on their record.
The Wildcats dominated the first half of Saturday’s game, outgaining the Rams 215-67 in total yardage and collecting 14 first downs. Running back Daryl Richardson scored the only two touchdowns in the half.
“They kept opening the holes for me,” Richardson said of his offensive line. “They keep giving me the opportunity to do my job when they do their job well.”
The Wildcats held a 17-0 lead at the half, due in part to Richardson’s efforts, as well as 30-yard field goal from Morgan Lineberry.
At halftime, Head Coach Chris Thomsen said he was encouraged by the play of his team, but emphasized the necessity of fewer mistakes.
ACU continued its strong play in the second half, putting 21 more points on the board. Richardson rushed for two more touchdowns, and Reggie Brown hauled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from red-shirt freshman quarterback Mitchell Gale. Backup quarterback Zach Stewart and many of the reserves saw significant time in the second half, continuing to pressure the Angelo State defense. ACU scored on six of its eight trips into the red zone during the game.
It was another excellent game for the ACU defense, as well. Eric Edwards and Kevin Washington collected eight tackles each, and the Wildcat defense allowed only 198 yards passing to Josh Neiswander, who entered the game as one of the nation’s top statistical quarterbacks. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes against only three interceptions this season, but he was largely contained by the tenacious ACU defense.
The Wildcats’ victory in San Angelo was the second collegiate start for Gale, who continues to impress with his poise and consistency in running the offense. He threw for 218 yards, after throwing for 300 against East Central last weekend.
“Our offensive line did amazing,” Gale said. “For a team, ASU had 27 sacks leading the conference, and I think we only gave up one sack.”
Richardson continues to be a valuable weapon at Gale’s disposal. His four rushing touchdowns gave him a total of seven in his last two games. Richardson. He also snatched a game-high seven receptions out of the air for 57 yards, including a two-point conversion pass from Gale.
Gale, Richardson and the rest of the Wildcats will be back in action Saturday against West Texas A&M. The Wildcats’ 2009 Homecoming game will serve as yet another chance for the squad to gel with big games against ranked opponents Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville looming in the weeks ahead.