The Wildcats steamrollered over the East Central University Tigers 43-6 in front of a crowd of 3,050 at Norris Field in Ada, Okla., Saturday afternoon, improving ACU’s record to 6-0.
The Wildcats dominated the Tigers in the first half of the game. ACU led 34-0 at the end of the first half, outgaining ECU in total yardage 398-25. The Wildcats completed 17 first downs and allowed the Tigers only one. ACU controlled the ball for nearly two-thirds of the first half.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Mitchell Gale praised his offense at the half.
“The game’s going well for us,” he said. “We’ve been able to put up quite a few points. I threw that first pick with really nowhere else to go, but from here, there is nowhere to go but up, and we’ve got to keep working hard.”
The Wildcats didn’t disappoint, playing the second half with the same ferocious tenacity they exhibited in the first. Aston Whiteside laid a punishing hit on ECU back Gene Norris, forcing the Tigers to punt. The Wildcats scored nine additional points in the second half, and many of the team’s reserves saw significant playing time.
Head Coach Thomsen commended the team as whole.
“It was a well-rounded victory,” Thomsen said. “We had good play from our special teams, defense and offense.”
Gale, in particular, put up a strong performance in his first collegiate start under center. Gale threw for 300 yards and tossed three touchdown passes. His only real mistake came in the first quarter at 9:26 when ECU’s Tyler McGrew picked off Gale’s third-down pass.
After the interception, Gale played nearly flawless football, and Head Coach Chris Thomsen said Gale was “sharp for his first start.”
Plays by a host of offensive stars amplified Gale’s performance. Sophomore running back Daryl Richardson found the end zone three times on his way to collecting 143 rushing yards, a game high. Richardson set the tone for the ACU offense with an electrifying 48-yard run on the second play of the game. He capped the game’s opening drive two plays later with a 5-yard touchdown run. Richardson applauded his offensive line, which allowed only one sack against Gale.
“Everybody was executing and playing fast,” Richardson said. “They did their job well, which allowed us to do our job.”
The Wildcats complemented their strong running game with a methodical passing attack. Eight wide receivers caught passes, including Raymond Radway with a 62-yard pass from Gale. Three different receivers – Edmund Gates, Justin Andrews and Kendrick Johnson – hauled in touchdown grabs.
The Wildcat defense also played a tremendous game. Defensive back Major Culbert led the Wildcats in tackles with nine. The Wildcats sacked ECU quarterbacks four times during the course of the game. The only points they allowed resulted from a Wildcat fumble, which the Tigers turned into a touchdown two plays later. Defensive end Aston Whiteside said he was proud of the defensive line.
“We played explosive and fast tonight,” Whiteside said. “Our defense came out and executed.”
Even ACU President Dr. Royce Money, who attended Saturday’s game, said he was excited about the game.
“This is fun,” Money said. “It has been a great day. Defense is the name of the game.”
It’s been a disappointing season to this point for the Tigers, who will try for their first victory against Texas A&M-Commerce next week. The Wildcats, on the other hand, continue to hold on tightly to the No. 2 spot in the rankings as they head into the weekend. The ‘Cats will kick off against Angelo State at 6 p.m. Saturday in San Angelo.