Four Downs: UIW tames Wildcats, UMHB stumbles again, two teams score over 80 points

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UIW utilized its depth and experience to defeat ACU on Saturday. While mistakes proved costly for Mary Hardin-Baylor, UTPB and Howard Payne scored over 80 points in wins, and it’s time to give SFA national recognition after Week 3.

First Down: UIW passes tough test against ACU

The Non-FBS Game of the Week lived up to the hype on Saturday. The Cardinals depth played a crucial role in UIW’s 27-20 win over Abilene Christian. The offensive line for UIW paved the way for 517 total yards of offense. The Cardinals kept a talented ACU defensive line away from quarterback Zach Calzada, who led the team with 66 yards rushing and two touchdowns. UIW has experienced these situations recently, which paid dividends against ACU.

Saturday was another disappointing loss at home in a big game for the Wildcats. ACU coach Keith Patterson spoke about the “championship mindset” that his team still needs to develop to win these close games. Patterson understands it’s a process and will happen eventually. His Wildcats showed they will challenge for the United Athletic Conference title. They will have a chance at a big win against Central Arkansas next week.

Second Down: Mistakes cost UMHB against UW-Whitewater

For the first time in program history, Mary Hardin-Baylor has begun a season 0-3 after Wisconsin-Whitewater escaped Belton with a 17-14 win. The culprit for the Cru this week was turnovers, which might be good news for UMHB fans. Three turnovers are never a positive but are fixable issues. 

The Crusaders have shown improvement each week and still have every goal in front of them. Indeed, a win in one of these first three games would’ve been nice. However, it wasn’t necessary to make the playoffs. Winning the American Southwest Conference’s automatic bid is a necessity now. That will likely be decided when UMHB meets Hardin-Simmons on October 28 in Abilene.

Third Down: Statements made

UTPB has outscored its opponents 182-7 in its first two wins of the season. The Falcons 96-0 victory over Texas College in Week 1 drew criticism from some who accused UTPB of simply beating up on an NAIA opponent. The Falcons gave the haters something else to criticize with a convincing 86-7 road victory over a NCAA DII Southwest Baptist.

Howard Payne is demanding people take notice of the Yellow Jackets this season. HPU beat Lyon College 85-0 on Saturday. Lyon is in its first year transitioning to NCAA Division III after playing in NAIA. The Yellow Jackets defense has only allowed 13 points in three games, and the offense has produced 127 points in the last two weeks.

Fourth Down: SFA deserves national recognition

One of the Non-FBS teams in Texas deserving of more national attention is Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks gave Troy fits in the season's opening game before the Trojans pulled away in the second half. SFA earned its first victory of the 2023 season against Alcorn last week and dominated rival Northwestern State on Saturday.

Some in the national media may hesitate to give the ‘Jacks a spot in the top 25 poll after SFA stumbled early last year with a high preseason ranking. However, this isn’t near the same team as last year. This defense has only allowed 17 points in eight quarters to FCS competition. They're worthy of the recognition.

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