The Bears’ first home game of the season ended in a 42-14 victory against the Abilene Christian University Wildcats on Oct. 3.
The fourth game of the season leaves both UCA and ACU at 2-2.
The Bears dominated much of the first half of the game. Within two minutes of the first quarter, UCA sophomore running back Dominique Thomas made the first touchdown after a five-play, 59- yard drive.
Senior kicker Jace Decker kicked a 27 yard field goal to earn an extra three points for the Bears putting them up 11-0, 5:33 into the first half.
With three seconds left in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Hayden Hildebrand passed to junior wide receiver Jatavious Wilson for a 53-yard rush to the Bears’ third touchdown.
ACU began its comeback with 2:07 left in the second quarter. ACU freshman tight end Cody Ennis completed a pass from junior quarterback Parker McKenzie for 10 yards for the Wildcats’ first touchdown of the game, leaving the score at 32-7 for UCA in the first half.
UCA’s Wilson made the Bears’ last touchdown of the game six seconds into the fourth quarter, followed by a field kick from senior placekicker Jace Denker, leaving UCA a final score of 42. ACU senior wide receiver Cedric Gilbert received a three-yard pass from McKenzie with 11:01 left in the game for the Wildcats’ second and final touchdown, making a final score of 14.
Senior running back Blake Veasley, who gained a net of 49 yards during the game, said the team expected the game to be a tough one, and that their determination proved it.
“We came out hitting on all cylinders tonight,” Veasley said. “The offensive line played lights out all night long.”
As for next week and the games to come, Veasley said the Bears should “continue focusing on being the best that we can be.”
Denker made two field goals, one from the 27-yardline and one from the 21-yardline. Junior half back Cody Dauksch ended the game with the most total yards at 57 yards, closely followed by Wilson at 53 yards.
Senior linebacker Ricky Wyatt was the Bears’ defensive star, collecting six solo tackles and three assisted.
Hildebrand completed nine out of 15 attempted passes for a total of 210 yards. Hildebrand’s longest received pass to senior tight end Justin Dickey was 56 yards. Thomas led rushing with 128 gained yards, 6 yards per play, while Wilson beat out his average at 8 yards per play.
The Bears achieved 23 first downs, gaining 469 total offensive yards and 210 passing yards. The Bears were in possession for 33 minutes and 55 seconds of the game.
The Wildcats made 14 first downs, gaining 272 total offensive yards and 181 passing yards while in possession for a total of 26:05.
During the first break in the game, President Tom Courtway joined Sen. Jason Rapert and state representative David Meeks on the field to celebrate students who have received the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship. Junior Jeff Homstad, one of 4,303 UCA students who received the scholarship this semester, was featured in the brief ceremony.
The halftime show featured the UCA marching band and several high school bands from all over the state, aptly named “Band Night.” UCA’s marching band performed a swing version of “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound of Music.” The collaboration also performed a routine learned that day of Irving Berlin’s “Heartfelt Prayers.” High school bands from Mayflower to Yellville participated in the event.
The Bears will face the Houston Baptist University Huskies at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in Houston, Texas.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 7, 2015 print edition of The Echo.