After a solid start to the season offensively, ACU turned the ball over on four separate occasions in their loss Saturday against Incarnate Word, 31-24.
Junior quarterback Luke Anthony was 26-46 and threw for 197 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Anthony entered the week without a single interception on the season, but the Cardinals defense proved to be more of a challenge.
Junior running back Keyondrick Philio rushed for eight carries and three touchdowns in the win for Incarnate World. Meanwhile senior wide receiver Kam Williams led the game receiving with seven catches for 105 yards.
Head Coach Adam Dorrel was disappointed in his team’s overall performance and felt they did not start the game the way they should have.
“I don’t think we were ready to play tonight which is very frustrating,” Dorrel said. “You’re playing a team that’s defending co-conference champion and can’t come out ready to play on the road. I felt like it took us way too long to get started on offense.”
The Wildcats were held scoreless in the first quarter and three in the first half, putting them into a 13-3 hole at halftime. Despite a comeback in the second half for ACU, they failed to get stops allowing 11 points late in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we missed way too many tackles tonight,” Dorrel said. “The big thing we need to learn from throughout the year now is that we’ve got to figure out how to get early production on offense. We’re making good adjustments in the third and fourth quarter, but you can’t not score points early.”
Despite the loss, the Wildcats won the total yards battle, 330-274, were more successful on third down conversions and finished with a better red-zone efficiency. However, the four total turnovers proved costly in the matchup.
After two consecutive three-and-outs, junior linebacker Hunter Kier fumbled the ball during the kickoff return, but the defense forced Incarnate World to a turnover on downs after a failed fourth down conversion attempt.
The Wildcats reached the red-zone, for the first time, Saturday late in the second quarter, but were held to a 23-yard field goal to make it a 13-3 score.
The first second half drive is where Anthony threw his first interception of the season. The Cardinals capitalized with a quick five play, 39 yard drive to the end zone for a touchdown, making it a 20-3 game.
Anthony was able to answer back with the first touchdown for ACU in the game for senior wide receiver Josh Fink. It seemed the momentum had shifted with a fumble recovery on the ensuing drive for Incarnate World as ACU scored another touchdown, making it a 20-17 matchup in the third quarter.
However, two more interceptions by Anthony kept the game out of reach, giving the Cardinals their first conference win of the season.
ACU willl stay on the road for one more week as they travel to Beaumont to face Lamar Saturday at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, Incarnate World heads to play Houston Baptist with the same kickoff time.