ACU fell for the second time in as many weeks, this time at the hands of Tarleton State in a game that ended 13-6 Saturday night.
Three turnovers and an inability to score touchdowns in the red zone hampered the Wildcats chances for a victory. ACU has been on the wrong end of the turnover battle in each of their losses.
The Wildcat defense dominated the first half, allowing the Texans a negligible 48 total yards. Tarleton had just three first downs for the half and could not generate anything on offense. However, ACU scored only six points in three red zone appearances, which proved costly.
“Defense played really well, just didn’t execute,” said Head Coach Chris Thomsen. “We didn’t execute in the open field, didn’t execute in the tight red-zone, just didn’t execute. We have got to find a way to execute better on offense.”
The Wildcats’ second drive took them all the way down to the Texan 9-yard line. The Wildcats faced a third and goal situation when Mitchell Gale rifled a pass that deflected off the receiver’s hands and was intercepted.
ACU had another opportunity to score points when Devin Guinn muffed a punt on the Texan 8-yard line. Reggie Brown rushed on first and second down, bringing the Wildcats to the 1-yard line. The Texan defense held Brown on third and goal from the 1 and forced a Wildcat field goal.
After a 16-yard reception by Ben Gibbs late in the first half, the Wildcats faced first and goal from the 4-yard line. After a short rush and an incomplete pass, Gale attempted to connect with Edmund Gates, but Gates came down out of bounds. ACU settled for a field goal on fourth down and took a 6-0 lead into halftime.
Gale echoed Thomsen regarding the offense’s poor execution.
“We just need to be more consistent,” Gale said. “We play good at times, but you can’t afford to be inconsistent against a good team. In the red zone, everything is magnified, so we have to come out with more points than six when we are down there as much as we were last week. ”
The Wildcats struggled to move the ball with consistency in the second half. The score remained 6-0 until early in the fourth quarter, when Guinn returned an ACU punt 57 yards for a touchdown. Fred Thompson blocked the attempt to hold the score even at 6-6.
However, the offense could not move the ball well enough to generate points. The Wildcat defense broke with 4:32 left in the game when Scott Granthem connected with Jahmeel Hobson on a 75-yard touchdown pass.
The Wildcats drove the ball back into Tarleton territory, but turned it over on an unsuccessful fourth and 17 after Gale failed to hit Edmund Gates with 1:53 left in the game. ACU got the ball back one more time with 10 seconds left after a Tarleton punt, but it didn’t help. The Wildcats ended the game with two incomplete Hail Mary attempts.
This marks the first time the Wildcats have not scored a touchdown in a game since a 31-0 loss against Angelo State in October 2001. The Wildcats drop to 7-2 overall and 2-2 in the LSC South, while Tarleton moves into a two-way tie with Texas A&M-Kingsville after the Javelinas escaped Eastern New Mexico 38-31.
ACU will square off against Kingsville in the final home game of the season at 2 p.m. Saturday.