Nine days after its first win of the season, ACU hopes to continue its winning ways on Saturday in a home matchup against the Prairie View A&M Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
This will be the first time the teams will face off since Nov. 16, 2013. ACU has won all three games against the Panthers with the most recent win coming in the first-year of Div. 1 for ACU as they took a 65-45 win in Prairie View back home with them to Abilene.
Both teams faced many changes during the offseason, with the biggest change coming in the head coaching position. For ACU, former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Keith Patterson now leads the team. Meanwhile, the Panthers promoted assistant coach Bubba McDowell to the head coaching position.
McDowell’s first win as a head coach and the Panthers first win of the season came during a rainy day rivalry game. After a two-and-a-half hour weather delay on Saturday, the Panthers defeated SWAC rival Texas Southern, 40-23, allowing them to keep the rivalry’s Durley-Nicks Trophy in Prairie View.
On the other side, ACU faced a rival of its own, defeating former Southland Conference rival Lamar University, 28-14, in Wildcat Stadium on Sept. 1. Not only did the win serve as the first season opening win for ACU since 2013, but it also served as Patterson’s first win as a head coach, who said the team enjoyed the win briefly, but quickly moved on to get ready for the Panthers.
“We’ve already moved on,” Patterson said. “It’s like I told our players the other day, normally you focus on a win about four hours and then you kind of move on. It’s just the nature of the business that we’re in, you don’t have time to sit here and dwell on what you’ve done in the past. You just got to look at it, evaluate it, and correct the things that we did wrong and think we can improve.”
Leading the Wildcats on offense in his second straight start is Maverick McIvor, sophomore quarterback from San Angelo. The transfer from Texas Tech finished his first start completing 22 of his 38 passes, earning 258 passing yards and two touchdowns. Receiving the majority of McIvor’s passes were senior wide receivers Kendall Catalon and Kobe Clark, who finished with seven receptions for 119 yards and six receptions for 71 yards, respectively.
The Sept. 1 matchup also proved to be McIvor’s first start since 2018, in a career that has been plagued with injuries. At the end of the day, Patterson said he was proud of how McIvor started the season, and is excited to see how the quarterback improves.
“I was very proud of Maverick that he handled it very well, extends plays with his feet,” Patterson said. “Surprisingly to a lot of people, he’s not just a pocket passer, he can keep the play alive and is always keeping his eyes down the field. I thought he handled things really well for his first night out and he’ll just continue to get better and better.”
On the other side, under center for the Panthers is Treason Connley, junior quarterback from Duncanville. He finished the first game passing 2-6 for 25 yards, while also throwing one interception. Instead of passing, PVAMU got their offense going by running the ball.
On 63 rushing attempts, the Panthers gained a total of 369 yards and earned a total of five touchdowns. Leading in rushing for the team was also Connley, who ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns. With those statistics in mind, Patterson said they will aim to take advantage and shut down PVAMU running game.
“If you can if you can to force people into being one dimensional, it should be an advantage,” Patterson said. “So, we’ll challenge them. If they want to run and turn it into a run game, then we’ll challenge our corners to be able to match up on wide receivers, and we’ll load the box and try to keep them one dimensional.”
The Panthers were not the only team that used their running game in their week one matchups. ACU finished their first matchup with 186 rushing yards and earning two rushing touchdowns courtesy of Catalon and senior running back Anthony Smith.
Ultimately, along with the goals of the Wildcats continuing to use a multifaceted offense and controlling the Panthers running game on defense, Patterson wants the team to focus on controlling what the team themselves can control.”
“Still, a lot of our focus is going to continue to be on us as a team and in control the things that we can control,” Patterson said. “If we do that, then I feel good about our progress and where we’re headed as a as a team and as a program. We’ll obviously study our opponent, be very familiar with those guys, but again, we’re going to put a major emphasis on us, continue to improve.”
ACU and PVAMU square off on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Wildcat Stadium for Salute to Heroes day. The game will be streaming live on ESPN+ and broadcasting live on ACU Sports Network.