The Wildcats were nearly 40-point underdogs entering Saturday’s season finale against Virginia (4-4). Along with the tough road test, junior quarterback Peyton Mansell saw limited reps due to an ongoing injury.
“Peyton [Mansell] has been out all week with a medical situation, so we didn’t get him back until Friday,” head coach Adam Dorrel said. “He’s been playing on an injury, quite honestly, for the past few weeks.”
Freshman Stone Earle received his first collegiate start in the 55-15 loss, throwing for 150 yards and the lone touchdown pass of the game for ACU (1-5).
“I thought Stone [Earle] played really well,” Dorrel said. “To make your first collegiate start against a really good ACC program he competed really well, and when Peyton came in, he did too.”
With Saturday’s loss, the Wildcats finish a shortened season with the lowest winning percentage for a season in the Division I era.
“Today we were decimated with injuries and COVID, so I was really proud of our guys,” Dorrel said. “I thought it was a gutsy performance by our guys given the circumstances.”
The Wildcats protected the ball on offense until a late interception thrown by Mansell that was returned 84 yards for a pick-six.
While ACU finishes the season on a disappointing note, Dorrel still needs time to reflect on the season.
“I think I need a little time to digest. I think there were some positive things that came out of this year, but there are certainly some things we’re very disappointed in as a program.”