The Wildcat football team answered the bell with their backs against the wall in the second half of the game and beat Tarleton State 34-31 in the house that Jerry built.
ACU was able to overcome another slow start and a 10-point halftime deficit with an explosive second half featuring the fancy footwork of wideout Taylor Gabriel.
Gabriel finished the game with 50 yards and two touchdowns receiving, including a dazzling 16-yard catch-and-run that essentially finished off the Tarleton State Texans.
“Taylor is a talented guy,” Head Coach Ken Collums said. “He can do things with the ball in his hands that makes you just want to get him involved. Early in the game we didn’t have him involved in the game as much, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that number four needs to get the ball here in the second half.”
Quarterback Mitchel Gale got the ball to all of his playmakers in the second half, as seven different Wildcats caught passes in the game.
Darian Hogg was coming off of a lackluster performance against Kingsville, but came up huge in Cowboy Stadium, catching eight balls and partially blocking a punt that set up the Wildcats with a short field.
“That’s what Darian does,” Gale said. “He blocks punts, he catches tough balls, and he fights for extra yards. I wasn’t necessarily surprised, I was very encouraged by the way he played because he plays hard.”
The Wildcats also utilized five different players in the running game. Charcandrick West and Travis Tarver were the standouts as both players
found the end zone on the ground.
Linebacker Thor Woerner was all over the field for the Wildcats.
He intercepted a pass deep in ACU territory in the first half, and finished off the Texans with an onside kick recovery in the waning seconds of the game.
“That was a big momentum shift. They were in the red zone; they could have kicked a field goal or had a chance to score a touchdown,” Suggs said.”I’m glad Thor was able to be there and make a play.”
The Wildcat defense gave up more than 550 yards, but played a good second half and limited Tarleton State to only 11 points in the last two quarters.
Safeties L.B. Suggs and Angel Lopez held down the back end of the defense, registering 21 tackles between the two of them.
The Wildcats focused on stopping the run and not giving up big plays in the passing game, and their plan worked well enough to hold the Tarleton State offense at bay in the final 30 minutes.
After an exhilarating win, the Wildcats will hitÂ the road again next week against the Angelo State Rams Saturday at 6 p.m. in San Angelo.