Heading into Saturday with its first 2-0 start since 2013, ACU fell to the hands of Southeastern Conference opponent Missouri 34-17.
Similar to the Lamar game with two quick touchdowns of 59 and 75 yards, Missouri did the same with 78 and 79 yard touchdowns. ACU scored two touchdowns in the second half but were unable to come out of Columbia with a win.
“I look at the things that really stuck out to me is that I was so proud of our kids and the effort that our players gave us,” Patterson said. “I mean, they just played with toughness and grit. They just kept, you know, the same play, you know, the next play mentality. No, no disrespect to Missouri, but it really boiled down to about five plays.”
Missouri struck first off a 78 yard punt return touchdown just over a minute into the game. ACU then responded with a 39 yard field goal from kicker Blair Zepeda, junior from Richardson, to cut the score to 7-3 with 5:54 remaining in the first quarter. A minute later the Tigers connected on a deep ball for a 79 yard touchdown to extend their lead to 14-3 with 4:47 left in the first.
In the second quarter, the Tigers went on a 9 play 47 yard drive in under six minutes to push the lead to 17-3. At halftime, the Tigers led 17-3. Running back Jermiah Dobbins, sophomore from Lubbock, was efficient with 11 carries for 64 yards and a reception for nine yards.
“We didn’t give up a sack to an SEC opponent, which was a major improvement up front,” Patterson said. “Very proud of those guys on that side. There’s a lot to build upon.”
Missouri’s defense came out hot forcing McIvor to throw an interception and capitalized with a touchdown to take a 24-3 lead.
Wide receiver Kobe Clark, senior from Sweetwater, picked up his 216th all time reception with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter. His catch moved him to second all time in receptions above former Wildcat and NFL wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. Clark needs 19 more receptions to break the all-time record held by current running backs coach Jerale Badon.
ACU’s first touchdown of the game came with 3:55 left in the third quarter when defensive end Alexander Duke, senior Houston transfer, picked up a forced fumble in the end zone. Missouri responded with a touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the third to take a 31-10 lead after three.
In the fourth, Missouri connected on a 52 yard field goal with 3:11 remaining. ACU then responded for their first offensive touchdown of the day with a 49-yard strike from McIvor to wide receiver Blayne Taylor, sophomore Cisco College transfer, for the score with 1:33 to play. Missouri then ran the clock out to take home the 34-17 win over the Wildcats.
“The difference between going 4-8 and 8-4 can sometimes be four or five plays, and I felt like it was that way,” Patterson said. “If we could change the outcome of those four or five plays, we would have positioned ourselves to be in a position to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”
Now the Wildcats head back home for family weekend against Div. II Western New Mexico (1-1) of the Lone Star Conference, ACU’s former conference. The Mustangs defeated Adams State 34-20 to open the year before falling 24-13 to Central Washington. Since 2017, ACU has gone 4-1 in matchups against Div. II or lower opponents. The lone loss came against Angelo State, 34-21, in 2020.
“Our goal is to go 5-0 this season at home and we’re currently 2-0,” Patterson said. “That’s all that really matters. That’s all we’re focused on. We’re focused on the process and everything that it takes and getting prepared to go through with that this week at home.”
The Wildcats vs Mustangs matchup begins at 7 p.m. next Saturday at Wildcat Stadium and will be broadcast live on ESPN+.