The Wildcats started their 2012 season by completely dismantling the McMurry War Hawks 51-0.
The Wildcats struggled offensively early in the game but still hung 21 on the War Hawks in the first half and continued their onslaught in the last 30 minutes.
Despite McMurry’s best efforts, they could only hope to contain wide out Taylor Gabriel, who had more than 100 yards receiving in the first half and finished the game with two total touchdowns.
Throughout the game, the Wildcats had three different running backs find the end zone: Charcandrick West, Travis Tarver and Marcel Threat, who finished the game with 88 yards and two touchdowns.
“O-Line did a great job, tight ends put in work and fullbacks did a great job,” Threat said. “We stressed preparation all week so it really feels good to come here and show out in front of the fans.”
Head coach Ken Collums kept the McMurry defense on their toes by mixing in running and passing plays to perfection. The ‘Cats were successful in power formations and out of the shotgun, and gave the War Hawks more than they could handle.
The Wildcats ran the ball all over the McMurry defense, including behind left tackle Will Latu, who shoved around the War Hawk defense like rag dolls all night long.
Latu’s physicality set the tone for the rest of the offense to open up gaping holes for several running backs wearing purple and white. Quarterback Mitchell Gale also had a big game, throwing for 290 yards and a touchdown in three quarters of work.
Not to be outdone, the Wildcat defense flew around all night long and frustrated the prolific McMurry offense. The ringleader for ACU Saturday night was Nick Richardson, who tied a school record with six sacks in his debut in the starting lineup.
“I feel more comfortable with my hand on the ground, it gives me a better ball to get off,” Richardson said. “I’ve got to keep pressing forward, stay humble and stay hungry.”
Defensive coordinator Darian Dulin had his guys flying around the field making plays on the back end, while the front seven simply dominated their assignments.
The Wildcat secondary broke up six passes and Angel Lopez picked off McMurry quarterback Jake Mullin for good measure.
L.B. Suggs also had a monsterous game, making nine solo tackles and forcing a fumble on a violent hit that sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
Despite a huge lead in the second half, the ‘Cats defense remained stingy and left McMurry fans shaking their heads as the War Hawks were unable to keep the game close. The Wildcats pitched their first shutout since September 30, 2006.
McMurry failed to convert on eight fourth down opportunities, leaving the Wildcats with short fields and red zone chances galore. The purple and white took advantage of the McMurry aggressiveness and were able to take out their starters with a 44 point cushion in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats did not leave the game unscathed. Linebacker Chris Summers left the game with a lower leg injury and could miss significant playing time.
The Wildcats will face a tougher test next week when they welcome LSC opponent Texas A&M Kingsville to Shotwell Stadium. Coach Collums will put his perfect record as a head coach on the line against a Javelinas team that played the ‘Cats close in 2011, losing 42-34.