ACU football looks to bounce back this week in front of a loud homecoming crowd after losing a close home game to conference opponent Lamar last weekend.
The Wildcats will take on NAIA opponent the Ave Maria Gyrenes. ACU enters at 3-3 overall and 2-1 in Southland Conference play. The Gyrenes will go into Saturday with a 1-4 overall record and a 0-1 Sun Conference record.
Ave Maria’s only win this year came against Concordia (Alabama) by a score of 16-12. ACU beat Concordia in the 2013 season opener, 84-6.
“The best medication after a loss is to go out and win a game,” said Ken Collums, head coach. “We know we have enough fire power offensively and defensive lineman to compete with anybody.”
Offensively, the ‘Cats bring in the best statistical quarterback in the Southland with Parker McKenzie. McKenzie leads the Southland in passing yards (1,750), passing touchdowns (16) and completion percentage (67.2).
Senior receiver Demarcus Thompson leads the potent passing attack for the Wildcats. Thompson has a Southland Conference leading 33 receptions for 377 yards. Junior Cedric Gilbert is the homerun hitter for the offense with 15 receptions for 353 yards, which is good for 23.5 yards per catch. Gilbert also leads the Southland in touchdown catches with seven.
“I really didn’t expect to have this year that I am having,” Gilbert said. “I am just happy to be playing again and I am blessed to be at ACU.”
The ground attack for ACU running backs features junior Herschel Sims and freshman De’Andre Brown. Sims leads the running game in attempts (76), yards (409) and rushing touchdowns (three). Brown leads the team with a yards-per-carry average of 6.8. Brown has 47 carries for 321 yards and one touchdown on the year.
On the defensive side, ACU features one of the Southland’s best pass rushers, Nick Richardson. Richardson has put together an impressive senior year with 36 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss and five sacks. Senior safety Justin Stewart leads the ‘Cats in tackles with 44. Freshman linebacker Sam Denmark has led the team this year in passes defended with five and interceptions with two.
ACU also features one of the most versatile players in the country, junior wide receiver/returner/cornerback Jonathan Epps. Epps has three catches for 83 yards on offense, 12 punt returns for 197 yards on special teams and 10 tackles and a pass breakup on defense.