ACU won a stunner against McNeese State on Saturday, defeating the Cowboys 17-10.
The Wildcats returned home on Saturday, after a heartbreaking loss to Central Arkansas the week prior, looking to rebound against the Cowboys of McNeese State. For ACU, they had never won against McNeese State in school history, having an 0-6 record against the Cowboys. The Wildcats put an end to the losing streak with an exclamation point.
The Cowboys chose to receive the kickoff to begin the game, and showcased their running game, and star running backs Junior Elijah Mack and Senior Justin Pratt. On the night, Mack averaged 6.9 yards a carry, on 18 carries for 125 yards. For Pratt, he had 13 carries for 56 yards, and averaged 4.3 yards per carry.
For ACU, defensive pressure was crucial heading into the game. The Wildcat defense forced two penalties during McNeese State’s opening drive, eventually forcing the Cowboys to punt the football away.
“I think we did a really good job of keeping the ball inside,” said head coach Adam Dorrel. “I thought we tackled well, and made some adjustments. Our defense was a real shining light tonight.”
The Wildcat offense started the game on a slower note, taking a field goal on their second drive of the game. At the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at three apiece. Although, the Wildcat offense started to click in the second quarter and it began with Senior running back Tracy James.
James had 15 carries for 36 yards on the ground, but showed his versatility a caught 3 passes for 80 yards on the night. He had two touchdowns, one through the air and the crucial game winner on the ground. Senior wide receiver Josh Fink also had a standout night, with nine receptions for 123 yards.
Junior receivers Justus Lee, Sophomore Kobe Clark, and redshirt freshman Javorian Miller all had receptions on the night as well. Clark looked especially good, being able to maneuver through McNeese’s tough secondary in man-to-man coverage, something he was looking to improve on going into his sophomore season.
“I have been really good against zones,” Clark said. “This year, I have been really honing in and trying to get open on man coverage.”
The excitement really began to build in the final minutes of the ballgame. Tied 10-10, heading into the final two minutes of the game, McNeese kicked a game tying football, and giving ACU the ball with little time to score.
The game clock continued to wind down, and within the last minute, Luke Anthony completed a miraculous pass to Tracy James. The McNeese defense collapsed the pocket on Anthony’s blind side, and he let the ball fly.
The ball was deflected off of a Cowboys defender, and Tracy James’ athleticism shined bright, as he made a tremendous catch and was brought down at the 1-yard line. Tracy James got the final score, with a 1-yard rush right up the middle to put ACU up 16-10, and kicker Blair Zepeda split the uprights bringing the score to 17-10.
“There was no doubt we were going to hand the ball to Tracy (James),” said Dorrel. “We are very proud of him.”
Tracy James continues his offensive domination, as he continues to lead the Southland Conference in rushing touchdowns with nine, as well as Josh Fink and Luke Anthony placing 5th and 3rd in their respective categories.
The Wildcats move to 2-2 on the season, as well as McNeese State. Conference play continues on the road for the Wildcats next weekend against Incarnate Word.