The Wildcats traveled to Commerce looking to stop a two-game skid, and succeeded when they overcame a slow start and ruined the Lions Homecoming with a 24-17 win.
ACU looked flat in the first half, when it finished the second quarter trailing a one-win Commerce team by double digits. To make matters worse, the Lions got the ball and scored again in the third quarter.
Down 17-3, the Wildcat offense exploded behind wide receiver Darian Hogg, who caught two touchdowns in the second half, including an 85 yard bomb from quarterback Mitchell Gale to give the ‘Cats a lead they would not relinquish.
“I told coach the drive before the safeties weren’t getting off the hashes and they were in cover two,” Hogg said. “If we ran the play we ran, we could have some success with it. The O-Line held up, Mitchell threw it, and I ran it in.”
Gale finished the game with a modest 236 yards through the air, with both of his touchdown passes going to Hogg. However, Gale threw the ball less than 30 times, in part, because running back Charcandrick West rushed for nearly six yards per carry.
Defensively, the ‘Cats took the Lion’s best shot in the first half, and weathered the emotional storm.
They held Commerce to only three points in the second half and forced a couple of key turnovers along the way.
Linebacker Justin Stephens intercepted a ball in the red zone to kill a Commerce drive with five minutes left in the game. The pick kept the game tied.
But the defensive hero of the game was cornerback Justin Stewart who intercepted a pass deep in his own territory and ran out the clock, ending Commerce’s hopes of a home victory and sealing a Wildcat win in one fell swoop.
“It felt really good to help my team out. Coach called the play and we ran it,” Stewart said. “When the quarterback threw the ball up, I just went and got it.”
The Wildcat defense was physical all game long, delivering several violent hits to the Lions, including Stewart and safety Angel Lopez. They registered double digit tackles for the third straight week.
“It felt good to deliver a big hit,” Stewart said. “I know the team wanted to run out on the field, but we couldn’t because we would get penalized.”
The Wildcats will look to start a winning streak this Saturday when they play a non-conference game against the University of West Alabama at Shotwell Stadium.
“It’s huge for us to finish strong,” Hogg said.Â “The seniors have two games left, and we are trying to send them out on a high note.”