The University of Central Arkansas Bears football team (10-1, 9-0 SLC) secured the Southland Conference Title with a 34-0 rout of the Abilene Christian University Wildcats (2-9, 2-7 SLC) on Nov. 18 at Estes Stadium.
Their recent Southland Conference games have been indicative of a coming greater onslaught. Back home after two away games, the Bears gave the four thousand-plus crowd a shutout against the Wildcats.
For the ACU Wildcats, it was their sixth straight loss.
By the end of the first quarter, UCA had racked up 17 points and ACU had barely been past the 50-yard-line. Against Sam Houston State University, quarterback freshman Luke Anthony had brought the Wildcat’s back from a 0-24 first quarter, but he was injured throughout the game with the Bears.
The Wildcats crossed the 50-yard-line for their first time of the game in the final 32 seconds of the first quarter with a complete pass to sophomore running back Tracy James to start the second quarter at UCA’s 45-yard-line.
ACU wasn’t always the runt on the field. In 2012, they had a 7-4 overall winning streak. In 2011, they were 8-3. Once they switched from NCAA Division II status to Division l, their record began to fall, from 6-5 in 2013 to 6-6 in 2014, the year they joined the Southland Conference, and then to 3-8 in 2015.
They inched across Estes field, but UCA forced ACU to make nine punts and two turnovers, and senior outside linebacker George Odum made a team high nine tackles and helped keep ACU to only six first downs while UCA’s offense had 319 rushing yards on 62 attempts.
With this shutout, the Wildcats have lost their third consecutive season finale.
The Bears, though, will be playing in the NCAA FCS Playoffs. They are the number four seed, have a first round bye and will play the winner of New Hampshire and Central Connecticut State..
Bears Head Coach Steve Campbell told KARK that an undefeated season and the Southland Conference title are just smaller goals to a National Championship.
“As a senior I think that everything that has happened ‘til today has helped us set the bar higher and we’ve learned how to work hard and implement it on Saturday’s game. We always talk about the little things and taking every game one week at a time. Our team really pushes each other everyday to get better in practice and I think that has a lot to do with our success on the field. Coach Campbell and the coaching staff have really done a great job getting us to this point and we’re ready to achieve our next goal of winning the National Championship by taking it one week at a time!” offensive lineman senior Gilberto Garcia said a day after the game.