Abilene Christian quarterback Billy Malone passed for four touchdowns and Bernard Scott rushed for two as the eighth-ranked Wildcats ended third-ranked Northwest Missouri State’s 17-game home winning streak with a 44-27 victory Saturday at Bearcat Field.
The Wildcats scored 30 unanswered points after trailing 21-7 at the end of the first quarter. The Bearcats scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the game, but were then held scoreless until early in the fourth quarter.
LaRon Council scored the first two Northwest touchdowns on runs of two yards and one yard. Quarterback Joel Osborn made it 21-7 with a 21-yard pass to Paris Elam, who ran down the middle of the field and tip-toed the back of the end zone while hauling in his first collegiate touchdown.
Osborn finished 28-of-46 for a career-high 325 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown toss was a 23-yard strike to Kendall Wright that made it 37-27 with 13 minutes remaining. Wright had eight catches for a game-high 123 yards.
Northwest forced a three-and-out on the Wildcats’ ensuing possession, but a holding penalty stalled the Bearcats’ next drive. Northwest took over again with seven minutes remaining, but back-to-back sacks by Vantrise Studivant sealed the win for ACU.
Scott, the runner-up to the Harlon Hill Award and the nation’s leading scorer in 2007, posted 177 yards in his first game of 2008. He had 120 yards and scored both his touchdowns in the second half.
Abilene trailed 21-17 at the break, but pieced together a 10-play, 86-yard touchdown drive to begin the second half. Malone completed passes of 18- and 20-yards to Edmund Gates on the drive and Scott carried 17 yards to the 1. Malone threw a playaction pass to Kendrick Holloway on the next play to give the Wildcats’ their first lead.
Gates had five catches for 122 yards for ACU. Jonathan Ferguson, who had a 61-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter, finished with three catches for 80 yards.
The score was 30-21 when Northwest committed its second turnover. Ryan Jones muffed the ensuing kickoff and Casey Carr recovered the loose ball at the Bearcats’ 10-yard-line. Malone scrambled and found Johnny Knox for a 7-yard score two player later, giving the Wildcats’ a 37-21 lead.
The team’s exchanged fumbles in the second quarter. The Wildcats’ capitalized and got a 34-yard field goal from Matt Adams to make it 21-17. Northwest kicker Tommy Frevert missed from 38-yard out in the final minute of the first half.