The University of Central Arkansas salvaged a winning season Saturday with a 16-7 victory over Abilene Christian at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene, Texas.
Playing in their season finale and riding a three-game losing streak, the Bears (6-5, 5-4 Southland Conference) got a 2-yard touchdown pass from Luke Hales to Jack Short with 2:47 left in the game to secure the victory and extend their run of seasons without a losing record to nine.
The last time the Bears finished below .500 came in 2009 when they went 5-7.
"I thought we played a pretty complete game, no turnovers on offense and we turned them over," first-year UCA Coach Nathan Brown said. "And good things happened for us."
Abilene Christian (6-5, 5-4) led 7-3 on Luke Anthony's 36-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Fuller with 13:06 left in the second quarter, which answered UCA's Matt Cummins' 20-yard field goal earlier in the quarter. The short field goal was set up when Joe Hampton recovered an Abilene Christian fumbled punt return at the Wildcats' 10.
Cummins blasted his second field goal (37 yards) with 7:07 left in the quarter to send the Bears into intermission down 7-6.
Taylor Wallace's 56-yard punt into the wind was fumbled by Abilene Christian's Chase Cokley and recovered by UCA's Jaylin Small at the Wildcats' 26 midway through the third quarter. A touchdown pass from Hales to Jakari Dillard on the ensuing play was negated by offensive pass interference on Dillard, but the Bears managed to get to the Abilene Christian 25 where Cummins made his third field goal, this one from 42 yards out, to give the Bears the lead for good at 9-6 with 5:48 left in the quarter.
The UCA defense allowed Abilene Christian just two first downs the remainder of the way, with Hales leading the Bears 55 yards in eight plays for the final score. Back-to-back completions to Dillard and Short gave UCA a pair of first downs, followed by a 12-yard run by Carlos Blackman that moved the ball to the Abilene Christian 6. Hales then found Short three plays later with the short touchdown pass to cap the scoring.
Robert Rochell's interception of Anthony at the UCA 44 ended the Wildcats' final threat with 2:12 remaining. Blackman ran twice for 29 yards as Abilene Christian could not stop the clock.
"Our defense was outstanding and gave us that opportunity to punch it in there at the end, and that was huge," Brown said.
The Bears outgained the Wildcats 292-231 in total offense, limiting the hosts to 6 yards on 16 carries (0.4 ypc). UCA also dominated time of possession 37:36-22:24.
Blackman led the Bears with 85 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Hales was 23-of-41 passing for 183 yards.
Sophomore safety Jackie Harvell led UCA's defense with seven tackles, two for lost yards, including a sack and forced fumble.
Sports on 11/18/2018
Print Headline: UCA ends year on high note with road victory at Abilene