The Wildcats earned their second win of the season on Saturday during Family Weekend against the UT Permian Basin Falcons, 34-9.
The first team on the board was UTPB when freshman kicker and punter Carson Robert scored a 35-yard field goal in the first quarter with 52 seconds on the clock. This gave UTPB the lead going into the second quarter. After that, ACU’s redshirt sophomore placekicker from Richardson, Blair Zepeda, tied the game 3-3 three minutes into the second quarter with a field kick for ACU.
Then senior running back from Hamshire, Tyrese White, ran a 40-yard touchdown giving ACU a seven-point lead over UTPB with only four minutes left in the first half, by the end of the game, finished with 103 yards. A redshirt sophomore running back from Fort Worth, Anthony Smith also added 73 yards and one touchdown for the offense.
This set the pace for the Wildcats’ offense for the night, which head coach Adam Dorrel said served the team well.
“We ran the ball really well tonight against a good defensive line,” said Dorrel, “and the running game got us back into our rhythm early. Tyrese White and Anthony Smith feed off each other and were a good 1-2 punch tonight, and we try to play to their strengths.”
After a period of time with no scoring, junior wide receiver from Sweetwater, Kobe Clark, caught a touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback from Keller, Stone Earle, with one minute left in the first quarter, bringing the lead to 17-3.
Eight seconds after this touchdown, Jordan Paup, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman from Central City, Nebraska, returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown bringing the score to 24-3. Then Zepeda kicked another field goal in the last three seconds of the first half securing a 27-3 lead going into halftime.
According to Dorrel, the final minute of the second quarter changed the course of the game.
“The energy on the sideline was electric, and it really got out fans and team going,” said Dorrel. “It changed the momentum and complexity of the game, and it settled us down. Plus, when you get that kind of carryover, it builds confidence for your team for the rest of the game.”
After halftime, the game began to slow down. Neither ACU or UTPB was able to gain any points in the entirety of the third quarter filled with penalties for both teams. As a result, this left the score 27-3.
UTPB scored their first touchdown of the game with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. This did not hinder ACU’s performance as sophomore running back Anthony Smith scored the last touchdown of the game, bringing the final score to 34-9.
The Wildcats finished Saturday with four turnovers throughout the game, which was a dramatic improvement since the team had yet to generate a single turnover in the first two games of the season. Which, according to Earle, was something the team had worked on and helped the offense.
“Our defense did a great job of getting turnovers all night,” Earle said. “That’s something we needed to work on; we haven’t had a turnover in two games. So, it really helped the offense out and it made it easier on us.”
By the end of the night, Clark tied the record for most receptions against the Falcons on Saturday with nine of them. The record was originally set by ACU alum and former NFL wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. As for Earle, he finished the night with 143 passing yards and one touchdown.
Over the past week, Dorrel has wanted his team to find themselves and their team’s identity. And according to Earle, the adversity the team experienced tonight sent a message.
“Coach Dorrel has wanted us to find out who we are,” said Earle. “We wanted to see how we respond to adversity, and I think we answered a lot of questions of who we are tonight.”
ACU’s next matchup is up against a familiar opponent, Lamar University. The road game will begin on Sep. 25 at 6 p.m. in Provost Umphrey Stadium, with the game streaming live on ESPN+.