For the first time since 2014, the football team will have a chance to win its fourth conference game as a Div. I program when it welcomes Northwestern State on Saturday.
The Wildcats defeated Incarnate Word, HBU, Central Arkansas and SFA in 2014. This year, ACU will try to add the Demons to its list after defeating HBU, Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana.
Head coach Adam Dorrel said he wants to stay on a roll after winning two games in a row.
“We’re trying to keep our momentum captured and generate off the momentum we’ve had in the last couple weeks,” Dorrel said. “We’re also trying to use the fact that we’re coming off a bye week and have had extra practices against Northwestern. We think that’s a big positive for us.”
ACU will go into the game with a 4-4 overall record and a 3-3 conference record while the Demons have a 3-5 overall record and a 2-4 Southland record.
Northwestern State has defeated HBU and Lamar in Southland play this year, but lost to Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls, Sam Houston and Central Arkansas.
Despite being behind in the standings (ninth place), the Demons boast the top passing offense in the conference. They rank first in passing yards per game with 318.6 and are second in total passing yards with 2,549. Southeastern Louisiana is in first with 2,740, but has played one more game than Northwestern State.
Their passing success is attributed to LSU transfer wide receiver Jazz Ferguson. He leads the conference in receiving yards with 852 as well as yards per game with 106.5 making him the only receiver who is averaging 100 plus yards. He’s also found the endzone eight times, the second most of receivers in the conference.
Junior quarterback Shelton Eppler has seen most of the reps under center for the Demons this season. He’s completed 128 passes on 209 attempts for 1679 yards and 14 touchdowns.
For ACU, junior transfer running back Billy McCrary and redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony stand out offensively in the conference.
McCrary has run for 691 yards which is the second most in the conference. He also leads all starting running backs in yards per carry with 9.2.
Anthony has thrown for the third most yards out of the Southland quarterbacks with 2294 which also gives him the third highest passing yards per game at 286.8. As far as touchdown passes, Anthony moves up one spot to second with 18 on the year sitting under HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe’s 21.
Dorrel said he’s proud of Anthony’s leadership so far and would rank him among the top quarterbacks in the conference.
“He’s right there. I think for me, I’m excited about Luke’s growth and progress because he wants to be great,” Dorrel said. “Anybody would tell you, if you’re gonna be great on offense, you got to have great leadership at the quarterback spot and I feel like he’s continuing to develop that in his game.”
In last year’s matchup between the two teams, the Wildcats lost in a heartbreaking fashion. The game went into overtime and Northwestern State ended up making a field goal in its first possession. ACU then got the ball and eventually lined up for a field goal but missed from 34 yards giving them a 26-23 loss.
Anthony was the starting quarterback and threw for 345 yards along with two touchdowns.
This Saturday’s game is scheduled for 2 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium. Coverage is aired on 98.1 FM.