After falling into a 10-0 hole after the first quarter of play, the Statesmen fought back and turned the game into a back-and-forth showdown. In the end, the Wildcats managed to escape with a 34-28 victory over the Statesmen.
Delta State (1-3) made its share of mistakes through out the game by turning the ball over three times and committing 15 penalties for 131 yards. Abilene Christian (3-2) committed just six penalties for 67 yards and finished the game with zero turnovers.
Statesman head football coach Jamey Chadwell was pleased with the way the team came together during the night.
“I told them in there that this was the first time all year in four games that it actually felt like we were a team,” Chadwell said. “We were pulling for each other and trying to play hard for each other.
“Unfortunately, we made too many mistakes to really make it a football game to be honest with you. If we get better on some of those little things, I think tonight will be a big step for us as far as knowing we can play with a passion and some positive things.”
The Statesmen were able to grab the lead three different times during the contest, but Abilene Christian was able to regain the lead each time.
Trailing 34-28 with less than two minutes to go in the contest, the Statesmen had one more chance by starting their final drive of the game at their own 24-yard line.
Statesman quarterback Trevor Wooden started the drive with promise as he completed a 24-yard pass to Lavon Downs and then a 40-yard pass to Kevin Jackson to move the Statesmen down to the Wildcats’ 12-yard line. Wooden advanced the Statesmen to the 7-yard line with a run of five yards but a false start penalty moved the Statesmen back to the 12-yard line. That was as close as DSU could get to scoring as two consecutive incomplete passes enabled ACU to get the ball back and run out the clock. The Statesmen also trailed 24-21 at halftime.
Wooden completed 14-of-25 passes with two TD passes and two interceptions to lead the Statesmen’s passing attack. Kevin Jackson caught five passes for 131 yards with a touchdown, Downs caught six passes for 98 yards and Reed Falkner caught two passes for 23 yards and a score to lead DSU’s receivers.
In the ground game, Rondreas Truesdale rushed for 73 yards with a touchdown, and Brant Botill rushed for 54 yards with a touchdown on nine carries to spearhead Delta State.
Andrew Jones went 4-of-4 in PAT kicks to lead DSU’s kicking game and round out the offense.
On defense for the Statesmen, linebacker Ixavier Triplett had a great night with a team-high 14 tackles. Marvin Clayton racked up six tackles including two tackles-for-loss with a sack, and Anthony Payne recorded six tackles including a sack to aid the Statesmen.
For Abilene Christian on offense, quarterback Mitchell Gale completed 26-of-37 passes for 246 yards with three touchdowns, Charcandrick West rushed for 59 yards with a touchdown on 18 carries and kicker Morgan Lineberry was good on 2-of-3 field goal attempts and all four of his PAT attempts.
On defense for the Wildcats, Ryan Smith recorded seven tackles including two sacks and Mike Wallace recorded six tackles with two interceptions to lead the way.
Delta State will return to the gridiron on Oct. 6 as the team will hit the road to Stephenville, Texas to play Tarleton State University.