The football team fell 26-23 to Northwestern State on the road Saturday after it could not match the Demons’ final overtime field goal.
The game featured senior Nik Grau and Northwestern State senior Eric Piccione in a place-kicker battle in which Grau made three of seven field goals he attempted, while Piccione made all four of his attempts.
In the fourth quarter, Grau made a field goal at the 11:23 mark to break a tie and give the Wildcats a 23-20 lead. The Demons, however, came right back on their next possession with a 43-yard field goal from Piccione to once again tie the game, 23-23.
ACU then gave itself two chances to take the lead on its next two possessions, setting up for two field goals. However, Grau missed both, one from 44 yards and the other from 48, which sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, Piccione drilled a field goal from 39 yards out on the Demons first possession, making the score 26-23. The Wildcats then took their turn and set up for a 34-yard field goal attempt, but Grau pushed the kick left, and NSU came away with the overtime victory.
For the first time this season, ACU made a change at quarterback, giving redshirt freshman Luke Anthony the start and first reins of the offense. Despite the loss, Anthony completed 29 of 45 passing attempts, with two touchdowns, no interceptions and 345 yards.
“It was a great opportunity to get the start, and I was really happy with the support the guys on the team showed me throughout the week,” Anthony said.
Anthony completed both of his touchdown passes to redshirt senior wide receiver Carl Whitley, who had 68 yards on the game. Senior fullback Trevor Crain was the leader in receiving yards with 93, and sophomore running back Tracy James led the game in rushing with 71 yards.
Defensively for the Wildcats, junior safety Brandon Richmond led the game in tackles with seven. Senior outside linebacker Bryson Gates also played well, making four tackles with three tackles for a loss and a sack.
For Northwestern, the rushing game stood out as senior running back Chris Jones ran for 110 yards and a touchdown, and freshman quarterback Kaleb Fletcher ran for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Sophomore safety Ryan Reed led the Demon defense with an impressive 14 tackles, while senior linebacker Chrishard Buhl made 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
Anthony said the team must make the most of its opportunities moving forward.
“I think the loss just further proved the point that Coach Dorrel made about the little things being what the game was going to come down to,” Anthony said. “We moved the ball well, but we can’t squander that many opportunities to get touchdowns.”
With the loss the Wildcats fall to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in conference, while the Demons move to 3-6 overall and 3-4 in Southland play.
ACU will next face Sam Houston State at Wildcat Stadium for its final home game of the season.