In the 58th and final Homecoming match up at Shotwell Stadium, the Wildcats broke an eight-game losing streak and earned their first win of the season over the Incarnate Word, 52-27.
For one of the few times all year, ACU came out fast taking the opening drive of the game 75 yards for a touchdown. De’Andre Brown capped of the drive with an 11-yard run to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 12:09 left in the first quarter.
Head coach Ken Collums who talked earlier in the week about starting fast said it felt good to execute what they had worked on during the week.
“That’s how it’s supposed to be. You prepare, you come out and you play well, and it has just been a long time coming,” Collums said.
UIW responded with its own touchdown after it scooped up an ACU fumble at the ACU 30, and five plays later Trent Brittain snuck his way into the End zone.
But with the game tied at seven, the Wildcats would explode for 31 straight points. Sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey connected with junior Troy Grant twice, and senior running back Adrian Duncan once as part of three first-half passing touchdowns. Freshman Tracy James would also add a nine-yard touchdown run and junior Nik Grau converted a 44-yard field goal to give ACU 38-7 halftime lead.
The Cardinals found increased offensive output in the second half after making the quarterback switch to Taylor Laird. UIW more than doubled its yardage total of 86 from the first half and outscored the Wildcats 20-14, but could not overcome the early 31-point deficit.
The defense played arguably its best half of football this season as it allowed just four first downs and only 27 yards of passing over the first two quarters. It also forced two fumbles and held on a UIW fourth down conversion try.
Sealey earned his first win as a collegiate starter, and finished the day 32-44 for 345 yards and five touchdowns, which gives him 20 total touchdowns on the season. The Wildcats totaled over 500 yards for the third time this season, including 154 rushing yards, led by Brown with 50 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
“A win like this where he (Sealey) goes out and plays well, and every one of those receivers and tight ends and whoever was out there on the other end of the catch, they made plays, that gives him more confidence, really more than anything,” Collums said. “Because you can put it on the money and you can manage everything, but your teammates have got to make plays and they did.”
ACU held the Cardinals to just 292 total yards of offense, as UIW was barely able to eclipse 100 yards on the ground with a total of 101.
“What I’m seeing from these guys is just positive stuff, and they are over comers,” Collums said. “I’ve been telling them since day one, they just haven’t been able to overcome on the scoreboard, and we did today.”
With the win the Wildcats improve to 1-7 overall and 1-5 in conference and move out of last place in the Southland Conference standings. The Cardinals fall to 1-6 and 1-4 in the Southland ahead of its match up with Stephen F. Austin next weekend.
ACU will travel to McNeese State next Saturday looking to avenge a 15-13 defeat a season ago.