SAN ANTONIO, Texas - One week after lamenting the lack of energy and enthusiasm his team played with in a loss against Stephen F. Austin, ACU head coach Adam Dorrel had no such complaints about his team after the Wildcats dismantled Incarnate Word, 45-20, at Benson Stadium.
The win – which pushes the Wildcats to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the Southland Conference – is ACU's first on the road since a 37-35 win over Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 15, 2014, snapping a 14-game skid. The Cardinals, meanwhile, dropped to 0-4 and 0-1 and fall to 2-7 all-time against ACU as the Wildcats snapped a two-game losing streak in San Antonio.
Saturday night's game was never in doubt as the Wildcats led throughout, at one point scoring 31 unanswered points to go from a 7-6 lead in the first quarter to a 35-6 halftime lead and 38-6 advantage early in the third quarter. The Wildcats scored 28 second-quarter points on two touchdown runs by quarterback Dallas Sealey, a 16-yard scoring pass from Sealey to Troy Grant and a six-yard scoring run by Tracy James.
Sealey finished the game 21 of 31 for 306 yards and one score and ran the ball nine times for 22 yards and three touchdowns. James carried the ball 13 times for 54 yards and one score as ACU had 97 yards on 31 carries as a team. Sealey now has eight career 300-yard passing games and 11 250-yard passing games, and was part of a night that saw the Wildcats rack up 447 yards of total offense.
The ACU defense, meanwhile, continued to play well, holding Incarnate Word to just 237 total yards on 56 plays, limited the Cardinals to just 3 of 13 on third downs and forced two turnovers, a forced fumble by Adonis Davis and an interception by Sam Denmark, both in the decisive second quarter.
The defense also came up with a couple of big stops in the second quarter and in the second half Erik Huhn blocked a punt that set up a score.
PLAYS THAT MATTERED
• 1Q – With UIW pinned on its 1-yard line early in the first quarter, UIW quarterback Sean Brophy hit Jamari Gilbert for seven yards on 3rd-and-8, but he was stopped short of the first down by a fine open-field tackle by Bolu Onifade, setting up a punt and ACU's first touchdown.
• 1Q – On 1st-and-10 from the UIW 22, DeShun Qualls took a jet sweep 20 yards to the UIW 2-yard line, setting up Dallas Sealey's first touchdown run of the night, a 2-yard run on a QB sneak with 6:51 left in the first quarter.
• 2Q – On the first play of the quarter, Dallas Sealey hit Troy Grant for 47 yards to the UIW 1-yard line, setting up Sealey's second TD run of the night, giving ACU a 14-6 lead with 14:36 left in the first half.
• 2Q – On third-and-1 from the UIW 47, Sealey found Qualls for 29 yards to the UIW 16-yard line to give the Wildcats a first down.
• 2Q – Two plays after the pass to Qualls, Sealey scored from 13 yards out on a zone read play to give the Wildcats a 21-6 lead with 9:26 left in the first half.
• 2Q – On the second play after the Sealey TD run, Adonis Davis forced a fumble by Baptiste and Jamar Mack picked it out of the air and returned it 24 yards to the UIW 19-yard line to set up the Wildcats again with 8:42 left in the first half.
• 2Q – Two plays after the turnover, Sealey hit Grant in the front right corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 28-6 lead with 7:46 left in the first half.
• 2Q – ACU's defense – which gave up just 104 yards in the first half – forced a three-and-out after the TD pass to Grant and Erik Huhn blocked Joe Zema's punt, giving ACU the ball at the UIW 25-yard line with 6:09 left in the first half.
• 2Q – Three plays after the blocked punt, James scored on a 6-yard touchdown run – his first TD run of the season – to give ACU a 35-6 lead with 4:52 left in the first half.
• 3Q – Freshman RB Qua'Shawn made his biggest play of his first season with a 20-yard run to the UIW 23-yard line that set up a 28-yard field goal by Nik Grau to push ACU's lead to 38-6 with 10:29 left in the quarter.
• 4Q – Early in the quarter, UIW was looking for momentum, but the ACU defense rose up and got a fourth-down stop when Sean Brophy's fourth-down screen pass fell incomplete under heavy pressure from the ACU defense.
• 4Q – On fourth-and-1 from the UIW 34, backup QB Luke Anthony found Justin Miller on an inside screen pass and Miller did the rest, bursting through the UIW defense for a 34-yard catch-and-run touchdown to give ACU a 45-13 lead with 11:32 left in the game.
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Dallas Sealey finished the game with 306 passing yards and is 10th in ACU history in passing yards with 4,790. Parker McKenzie (2013-16) is ninth on the all-time list with 5,246 passing yards.
• Dallas ran for three touchdowns in the game – all in the first half – to give him 11 in his career. Sealey had a career-high four rushing touchdowns last Sept. 10 in a loss to Northern Colorado.
• Senior MLB Sam Denmark had an interception late in the first half, his first pick of the season and sixth of his career. Four of his six career interceptions have come against Incarnate Word as he picked off a pair of passes against the Cardinals in a 21-0 win in Abilene on Sept. 20, 2014, and had another against UIW in a 52-27 win in Abilene on Oct. 22, 2016.
• Prior to Saturday night's game, ACU's first team offense had scored four touchdowns in the first four games. It scored five touchdowns in the first half Saturday night against the Cardinals.
ACU head coach Adam Dorrel
… general comments
"I was very proud of our team and the way they came out and played, especially after the disappointment of last week. We played with passion and intensity, and if you can do that for four quarters and execute your game plan you've got a good chance to win."
… on performance by defense
"Obviously the two blocked punts we gave up put our defense in poor field position, and that led to a couple of scores. We want to be a defense first team, and want to be the best defensive team in the Southland Conference. We've got work to do to reach that goal, but if we're going to compete for and win conference championships, we have to get there. Tonight was a good step."
The Wildcats return to Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium as they host McNeese at 7 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast nationally on Eleven Sports.
Courtesy ACU Athletics
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