The Wildcats’ last game of the season was significant in more ways than one. The ‘Cats defeated University of Incarnate Word 24-12 while wearing red bands in support of Rex Fleming and his fight with brain cancer.
Senior quarterback Mitchell Gale surpassed former ‘Cat Billy Malone (’05-’08) to become ACU’s and the Lone Star Conference’s all-time passing leader. He needed 312 yards to jump ahead of Malone and reached that mark late in the third quarter.
“This is crazy,” Gale said. “I’m super blessed to be where I am right now. I love everything ACU stands for.”
Gale was 25 for 36 with 408 yards passing and two touchdowns. It was his last game in the purple and white and ACU’s last game as a member of the LSC. He ends his career with 12,109 passing yards, 97 more than Malone.
The team finishes their Division II and Lone Star Conference career with a 7-4 mark (4-4 in the conference). It is the 25th seven-plus win season in school history.
“We ended the season, 3-0 and that’s what we wanted to do,” Gale said.
Gale spent his four years at ACU alongside head coach Ken Collums and was delighted to have him at his last game.
“Words cannot express how much that means to me,” he said.
The Cardinals kept the game close despite not scoring a single touchdown. An interception and several costly penalties stopped the Wildcats from putting points on the board when they were in the red zone.
ACU did not record a touchdown until the second quarter and trailed Incarnate Word 6-3 after the first quarter.
The ‘Cats first score came on an 87-yard toss from Gale to running back Charcandrick West. It was the longest touchdown pass of Gale’s career. West also scored the last touchdown of the game on a five yard run. He had 11 rushes for 72 yards, two touchdowns and 109 receiving yards.
Wide receiver Darian Hogg caught the Wildcats second score of the game on a crossing route. Gale threw him an 80-yard pass that put the team up 17-6 right before halftime.
Hogg recorded three receptions for 92 yards. Receiver Darrell Cantu-Harkless did not score any points but had nine receptions for 102 yards.
ACU’s defense did a good job of limiting the damage once the Cardinals got into the red zone. UIW had four opportunities to score, but could only muster four field goals.
The ‘Cats forced two fumbles including one on the opening kickoff which linebacker Travis Tarver II recovered. The team was not sure Tarver would make the game. He had to rush to Incarnate Word after attending his uncle’s funeral Saturday afternoon.
Linebacker Justin Stephens led the defense with 14 total tackles (11 unassisted) and one sack. Mike Wallace also had a big game defensively. He recorded 10 total tackles including three for loss.