Head coach Adam Dorrel and the Wildcats look to win their third game in a row this weekend against Stephen F. Austin for the first time since the team beat Troy, UIW and HBU in 2014.
Last season, ACU welcomed SFA to Abilene for Wildcat Stadium’s second game ever. The Lumberjacks, however, escaped with a 20-10 victory.
ACU has momentum going into this year’s matchup though, winning its home opener to Angelo State 41-24 and its conference opener last week to HBU 38-13. SFA struggled in its first two games this season facing SEC opponent Mississippi State, losing 63-6, and Incarnate Word, losing 31-7.
Dorrel said he believes his team is stronger than last year.
“I feel like our confidence level compared to last year at this time is much greater,” Dorrel said. “I think that comes through work ethic and guys being in the system for the second year.”
The Wildcat defense has given up 489 rushing yards, and when excluding the 295 coming from Baylor, they gave up 194 against Angelo State and HBU combined. Junior linebacker Jeremiah Chambers has led the charge this season with 24 tackles, five tackles for a loss and two sacks.
Last week, the Wildcats put on a 335-yard rushing performance to total 702 in three games so far. with 875 passing yards added, ACU has easily broken the 1,000-yard mark with 1577.
The offense has shown variety in playing time, especially in the backfield as three different running backs put up impressive numbers last week against HBU. Redshirt junior Tracy James and freshman Tyrese White both broke 100 yards in the game, while junior Billy McCrary reached the end zone twice.
James said he gives credit to the offensive line for the success in running the ball.
“What’s really clicked is our offensive line, they finally have a good mentality, so that’s really helped out,” James said. “It’s very beneficial now, we can see more clear and they know where we need to run, so they help us out.”
The Lumberjacks have had a hard time defensively so far allowing 94 points in two games. They’ve also given up 1071 total yards (485 rushing and 586 passing). The safety duo of senior Lawrence Ghansah and sophomore Trenton Gordon lead the way in tackles for SFA. Ghansah has made 16, while Gordon has earned 12.
Offensively, SFA has split time at every position and hasn’t established a starting quarterback. Senior Sawyer Foster has seen the most reps throwing 45 passes and completing 20 of them. Junior Jake Blumrick has also played significant time, attempting 31 passes of his own with 17 completions. The Lumberjacks have posted 586 passing yards this season.
Much like the Wildcats, SFA has given three different running backs an even workload. Redshirt freshman Dominic Williams has 19 carries, while juniors Jae’lon Oglesby and Jamall Shaw have both rushed 17 times.
The Wildcats will look to start 2-0 in conference for the first time since 2015. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday in Nacogdoches and can be viewed on ESPN+ or heard on 98.1 FM.