New head coach Keith Patterson continued his perfect start with a 21-13 win over Prairie View A&M on Saturday. night, the first time since 2013 that ACU heads into week three 2-0.
In addition to the 2-0 record, this is the first time ever that ACU has opened the year with wins over Div. 1 opponents. The two wins in 2013 came in an 84-6 win over Concordia College, an NAIA program, and a 60-17 win over McMurry, a Div. III program.
A perfect two weeks for the Wildcats was boosted behind a complete fourth quarter of football with two touchdowns from quarterback Maverick McIvor, sophomore from San Angelo. Patterson said he was impressed with McIvor after he threw three interceptions in the first half.
“Thank goodness they don’t give style points for wins in football,” Patterson said. “But I’m very proud of our staff and very proud of our players. We’ve really stressed with these guys the last two weeks that there’s going to be times when you’re going to be under stress. Very few times in football can you overcome three turnovers on offense.”
A defensive slugfest ensued in the first half with four turnovers exchanged between ACU and PVAMU. ACU started hot with a 15-yard touchdown pass from McIvor to tie the game at 7 with 2:09 remaining in the first. The Panthers and Wildcats were gridlocked at 7 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the PVAMU kicker connected on two field goals from 46 and 47 to give the Panthers a 13-7 lead. The Panthers’ field goals and three interceptions from McIvor gave first year head coach Bubba McDowell and the Panthers the lead at half.
“There’s no such thing as halftime adjustments-that’s coach speak,” Patterson said. “You better be making those adjustments between this series because if you don’t, you won’t make it to halftime.”
ACU roared back to life in the fourth quarter after a 0-0 third quarter scoring 14 unanswered points to take home the 21-13 win. McIvor threw a pass to the flat route to the tight end Noah Caldwell, sophomore from Electra, for the score and tucked it in and ran it in himself for the second score. McIvor finished his night 20-34 for 225 yards, two passing touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran the ball six times for 13 yards and a crucial two yard touchdown run to extend the Wildcats lead to eight with 5:05 remaining.
“We had talked about how your trials and tribulations are going to produce endurance and perseverance,” Patterson said. “That’s going to build your character and refine your character, which eventually is going to prepare you for your calling. Your calling is to try to win a championship, and games like that help you do it. ”
The defense shined once again, with defensive end Tyrin Bradley, sophomore out of Lubbock, and linebacker Reese Young, freshman out of Stephenville, leading the way. Cornerback Anthony Egbo Jr., junior from Richmond, also stood out with a blocked field goal on special teams and five tackles, a tackle for loss and a pass breakup on defense. Bradley led all tacklers with 10 in addition to two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry.
In the second half, the defense held the Panthers scoreless and only gave up 114 yards. With 1:07 remaining, PVAMU had the ball down eight and rallied to the ACU 49 before time ran out.
“I buy into just trying to get better every single day at the end of the year we will be much better,” Patterson said. “I’m excited to see what these young men can become because we haven’t scratched the surface.”
When Young first stepped up for his postgame interview, Patterson nicknamed him G.I. Joe because he always takes things seriously. Young said he appreciates playing for Patterson.
“It’s great,” Young said. “We think alike. We both want to be here, we enjoy thinking of mental toughness and stuff like that.”
Now the Wildcats will head to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Southeastern Conference Missouri Tigers. ACU rolls into week three 2-0 against a Tigers squad that lost 40-12 at Kansas State on Saturday. Since 2013, when ACU first made the move to the Div. I level, it has played in 14 FBS matchups. ACU is 1-14 in those matchups with the lone win in those coming against Troy in a 38-35 win on Sept. 13, 2014.
“I can’t let how big they are decide how we play,” Young said. “We’re going to go out there and do what we need to do.”
The WAC vs SEC showdown begins at 11 a.m. on Sept. 17 at Memorial Stadium and will be broadcast live on SEC Network+.