ACU fell to SFA on a 51-yard game-winning field goal as time expired on Saturday night, 41-38.
With four seconds remaining, kicker Blair Zepeda, junior from Richmond, attempted a 54-yard field goal to win the game for ACU. His kick was short as SFA caught the field goal and ran to the ACU 49-yard line before being horse-collar tackled by the Wildcats.
The penalty proved to be costly as SFA received one final play due to the 15-yard penalty and were set for a field goal from 51-yards away. Kicker Chris Campos, sophomore from Nacogdoches, stepped up and squeezed the field goal into the bottom left corner of the goal-post to give his hometown team the win.
“I’ve never, never been a part of anything like the last one minute and 29 seconds,” Patterson said. “Just going back and forth like a ping pong match. We just have to continue to keep the emphasis on us.”
Heading into Saturday, wide receiver Kobe Clark, senior from Sweetwater, needed nine receptions to break the all-time record. He did so in the fourth quarter on a 17-yard pass from quarterback Maverick McIvor, sophomore from San Angelo, for No. 236 on his storied career. Clark now holds the No. 1 spot over former Wildcat receiver and now running backs coach Jerale Badon, who caught 235 in his career.
McIvor received the start against the Lumberjacks over Ethan Long, junior from West Linn, Ore. The Lumberjacks struck first on a 12-play 75 yard drive to take the early 7-0 lead. A quick three-and-out ensued from McIvor and ACU with the punt from Logan Burke, senior from Katy, being blocked. SFA answered with a touchdown to extend their lead to 14-0 with 5:08 left in the quarter. At the end of quarter one, ACU trailed 14-0.
“We have a long way to go,” Patterson said. “We haven’t scratched the surface of the football team that we can become and you see glimpses of it at times. If we can ever put that all together offensively, special teams, defensively into one game, it’s going to be scary because I really believe that we have not hit our potential in stride yet.”
In the second, the Wildcats rallied to head into halftime trailing 24-21. Offensive coordinator Stephen Lee’s offense outscored the Lumberjacks 21-3 in the final 9:37 of the second quarter. Lee dialed up a 46 yard touchdown run from running back Jermiah Dobbins, sophomore from Lubbock, to put his team on the board. Quarterback Maverick McIvor, sophomore from San Angelo, then threw a 30 yard dime to wide receiver Tristan Golightly, sophomore from Mesquite, for his first touchdown as a Wildcat. Golightly’s grab cut the ‘Jacks’ lead to ten with 2:34 remaining in the half.
Wide receiver Kobe Clark, senior from Sweetwater, caught a four yard touchdown pass from McIvor to cut the lead to three with three seconds remaining. Clark finished the half with five catches to push his all-time total to 228, seven away from the all-time record.
Three minutes into the second half, McIvor threw an interception with SFA capitalizing and scoring to extend their lead to 31-21 with 9:33 in the third. McIvor bounced back leading a ten play 75 yard drive in under five minutes. Dobbins finished the drive in the end zone on a one yard score to cut the SFA lead back to three, 31-28. ACU’s defense forced a turnover of their own with defensive end Tyrin Bradley, sophomore from Lubbock, sacking SFA quarterback Trae Self, stripping the ball away and recovering the fumble. ACU ran eight plays for 28 yards in over three minutes ending in a Blair Zepeda field goal to tie the game at 31.
SFA extended their lead in the fourth until Dobbins scored his third touchdown of the night to tie the game once again at 38. Once again, ACU’s defense forced a turnover with UCLA transfer cornerback Patrick Jolly, junior from Tampa, forcing the interception from Self with 38 seconds remaining.
McIvor connected with Clark on a 17-yard pass for his first completion of the drive. This was Clark’s ninth reception of the night, breaking the all-time receptions record with catch No. 236 for his career. At the end of last season, Clark entered the transfer portal but once Patterson was hired he convinced the senior to stay in Abilene.
“First of all, hats off to Kobe,” Patterson said. “What a great accomplishment that is. It’s kind of hard to sit here and celebrate right in the middle of the season. It’s something that we’ll obviously celebrate after this year’s over but we’re very proud of him.”
Following Clark’s broken record, ACU had little time to spare and spiked the ball with four seconds left for Zepeda to attempt the game winning 54-yard field goal. SFA took a timeout to ice the kicker and it worked as Zepeda missed the 54-yarder. The Lumberjacks’ Xavier Gipson caught the missed field goal and made it to the ACU 49-yard line before being tackled by his collar. A 15-yard penalty was given at the end of the play as SFA’s kicker would have a chance to attempt a 51-yard field goal to end the game. He tucked the kick into the bottom left corner of the goalpost as SFA sent ACU home with a 41-38 loss.
“We didn’t consider that as a loss, really,” Patterson said. “We were behind on the scoreboard and we ran out of time. We have great confidence in Blair as a team and as a coaching staff and we fully expected him to make that kick. He got under it maybe just a little bit, left it three or four yards short. Unfortunately, they call us for a penalty on, I guess for tackling someone hard. It is what it is and we just move on.”
After the heartbreaker in Nacogdoches, the Wildcats head back home for homecoming against the Southern Utah Thunderbirds (3-3, 1-1). On Saturday night the Thunderbirds fell in a close battle to the Tarleton Texans (4-1, 1-0) 42-40. SU scored 27 in the fourth quarter alone but were unable to pull out the WAC win.
“It’s very important for us to be able to make sure that we maintain a focus and in our preparation toward the game so that we can make our alumni and our fans proud,” Patterson said. “We set a goal at the beginning of the year that we want to go undefeated at home. This is just another step in being able to do that.”
The Wildcats and Thunderbirds kick off at 3:25 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium.