The ACU football team travelled to Prairie View A&M looking for their eighth straight winning season and secured a 65-45 victory.
“We liked our matchups offensively versus their defense,” head coach Ken Collums said. “Offensively, they moved so fast. They might have been the fastest offense we have ever faced, just as far as their operating time goes.”
Senior quarterback John David Baker finished his college career by breaking an ACU record. Baker’s five total touchdowns brought him to 40 total touchdowns. Baker also threw for 485 yards, which was good for third-most in ACU history.
“From not calling plays this year and getting to watch him play, he is a fun guy to watch,” Collums said. “I would buy a ticket to go watch him play. As a coach, when you can recognize that even in the moment, is pretty special.”
Senior running back Charkandrick West had a historic day for the Wildcats. West ran for 155 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 35 career touchdowns, which is the fourth best mark in ACU history. West also went over 2,000 career rushing yards in the victory.
“You could tell that he felt really good going into the game,” Collums said. “When he broke that first level he was running as fast as he has ever run before. I know it makes him feel really good knowing he was able to finish the way he did.”
Several wide receivers also had huge games for the Wildcats. Senior Darrell Cantu-Harkless had six catches for 131 yards, Taylor Gabriel had seven catches for 94 yards and Demarcus Thompson had 87 receiving yards and a touchdown. Darian Hogg had 40 yards and tight end Jamie Walker caught two touchdowns.
ACU’s offense piled up 692 yards of total offense after facing the Panthers, who dropped to 5-6 after the loss. The two teams combined for over 1,200 yards, due in large part to ACU’s explosive offense and the Panther’s hurry-up style.
Defensively, ACU held their own against one of the best offenses in FCS football.
Senior Angel Lopez went over 100 tackles this season with a whopping 17 against the Panthers, including 13 solo tackles.
“When a team snaps the ball that many times, somebody better have that many tackles or they are going to score,” Collums said. “Angel is where he is supposed to be. He is very knowledgeable and the fact is that the safeties run the show in our defense.”
Chris Summers also reached double-digit tackles with 10. Defensive end Nick Richardson had double-digit sacks this season after recording two sacks Saturday afternoon and also forced a fumble.
Senior defensive end Kolby Rowe also recorded a sack in the victory.
The Wildcats finished 6-5 in their first season as a Div. I team, beating three Div. I schools in the process, including Prairie View A&M. ACU will begin Southland Conference play next season.
“We always talk about how society is full of men who don’t finish well, and we want to be finishers,” Collums said. “That’s what we talked about leading up to the game. We wanted to finish this thing right so we could all walk away with the table set for the future.”