In a shootout similar to last year’s season finale with Northern Colorado, ACU fell 55-52 to the Bears.
ACU struck first on a play that was called as a quarterback sneak, but was bounced outside for a 49-yard touchdown by redshirt sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey.
However, UNCO wasted no time matching the Wildcats’ opening drive with a four-play, 52-yard drive of its own. The scoring drive was capped off on a 26-yard pass from Kyle Sloter to Hakeem Deggs.
With the momentum shifted in the Bears’ favor after the touchdown, Northern Colorado reeled off 21 straight points to take a commanding 28-7 lead, just one minute into the second quarter.
But on a night where Sealey would contribute five total touchdowns, he rallied the ACU offense, finding redshirt freshman Justin Miller for 34 yards and junior receiver D.J. Fuller for 27 yards and a touchdown on consecutive plays. Fuller finished with six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Miller recorded six catches for 83 yards.
“We just started picking up the tempo,” Sealey said. “Coach Young started calling the plays, getting them ran faster and we just kind of wore them down.”
The Wildcats would continue to rally, scoring on their next two possessions with drives of 73 yards and 58 yards to tie the game at 28. ACU held the Bears and forced a fourth down on the ensuing possession, but a roughing the kicker penalty would result in a UNCO touchdown with 12 seconds left on the clock and a 35-28 halftime score.
After a UNCO touchdown to start the half, senior Adrian Duncan found an opening in the defense and took the ball 46 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 42-35. Duncan finished with 101 yards on 15 attempts.
The Bears responded again with a touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Sloter to Michael McCauley, but Wildcats regained the momentum when the PAT was blocked by senior Josh Bloom.
On their ensuing drive the Wildcats marched 75 yards in eight plays to cut the lead to 48-42 on a Sealey quarterback sneak, which was set up on 50-yard connection between Sealey and junior Troy Grant. Sealey finished the game with 417 total yards and five touchdowns.
Momentum continued to build for ACU as junior Sam Denmark intercepted Sloter’s pass on the next drive, which would lead to nine-play, 38-yard drive by the Wildcats to take the lead for the first time all night, 49-48.
The score would remain that way heading into the fourth quarter, as it would prove to be much lower scoring than the first three.
After an ACU punt UNCO’s Trae Riek fumbled on the first play and sophomore Jabari Butler recovered it, leaving the Wildcats six yards from the end zone. Although the offense couldn’t find the end zone, ACU extended its lead to 52-48 on a 21-yard field goal from redshirt junior Nik Grau, his first since Nov. 14, 2014.
However, Northern Colorado would have the final say in the game, as they responded in just three plays with a 59-yard link up between Sloter and receiver Alex Wesley.
“We’re going to take a lot of positives from this it’s just a bummer when you’ve got a chance to win the game, we really needed a touchdown here at the end and we got a field goal,” head coach Ken Collums said.
With the loss the Wildcats fall to 0-2, while UNCO improves to 2-0. ACU opens Southland Conference play next week when it heads to Houston Baptist.