The Wildcats defeated Midwestern State University in the first round of playoffs Saturday, coming from behind to outscore the Mustangs 24-21.
“It was an unbelievable game between two teams that were fighting and playing as hard as they could,” said Head Coach Chris Thomsen. “It was a tremendous game, and I was just glad to be a part of it.”
ACU’s defense was key in the playoff win, sacking Zack Eskridge eight times and forcing two turnovers.
“We did a great job getting pressure today,” said defensive end Aston Whiteside. “It was not just me, though. We got pressure on the inside with Marvin Jones.”
Dennis Campbell took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. However, ACU’s offense struggled in the first half, managing only three first downs and 60 yards of offense. Eskridge rushed for two touchdowns – including one for 25 yards – in the second quarter. The Wildcats went into the locker room trailing 14-7.
The Wildcats held the Mustangs scoreless in the third quarter, and Mitchell Gale led the Wildcats on an 81-yard drive, capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass to Edmund Gates, despite two penalties early in the drive. Gale found Terrell Woodall on a third and 12 to keep the drive going.
With 13:42 left in the game, ACU scored again, this time on a 41-yard catch by Kendrick Johnson, who had been sidelined in previous weeks with an ankle injury. The catch gave the Wildcats a 21-14 lead.
“It felt good to be able to come back and make plays,” Johnson said. “I was glad I was able to help my team get a win.”
On the next possession, ACU strip-sacked Eskridge on the MSU 18-yard line. A 28-yard field goal by Morgan Lineberry was all the Wildcats needed to win the game.
MSU scored with 1:06 left in the game, closing the gap to 24-21. The Mustangs then attempted an onside kick, but the Wildcats recovered the ball and ran out the clock for the victory.
The Wildcats will advance to play Northwest Missouri State at noon Saturday in Maryville, Mo. Tickets cost $5 for students with a valid ID and $12 for nonstudents; for $489, fans can reserve a seat on the team’s charter plane. For more information, contact the ACU Athletic Department.