WT Buffs wallop Wildcats

A dominating performance by the No. 20 West Texas A&M football team as it treated the largest crowd of the season to a 36-0 shutout of visiting Abilene Christian on Homecoming Saturday evening at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium. With the win, the Buffaloes improved to 6-1 on the year and a perfect 5-0 in the Lone Star Conference. ACU fell to 4-3 on the year and 2-3 in conference play.

The game was a dominating performance on all fronts as a season-high crowd of 13,019 saw WT outgain ACU 475-207 in total offense, including 92-3 in rushing and 383-207 in passing yards. Buffalo junior quarterback Dustin Vaughan threw for 359 yards and three scores on 32 of45, while redshirt freshman Jarrian Rhone, who earned his first collegiate start tonight, had a career-high nine receptions for 106 yards and a score. Junior Nathan Slaughter had eight catches for 83 yards and score and junior Trevor Hammargren with three receptions for 31 yards and a score.

Senior running back Khiry Robinson had his third game of over 100 yards on the ground as he had 15 carries for 102 yards and a score as he averaged 6.8 yards per carry.

It was the eighth-consecutive win in a row on Homecoming for the Buffaloes as they improved to 42-26-2 all-time on Homecoming. WT had its second shutout of the season marking the first time accomplishing that feat since 2008 in a 27-0 win at Angelo State and a 51-0 win at home over Tarleton State. WT won 24-0 at Incarnate Word on Sept. 22 this season.

Abilene Christian suffered its first shutout since a 31-0 loss at Angelo State exactly 11 years ago to the day on Oct. 13, 2001. The Buffs snapped a string of 121-straight games with a score by the Wildcats. In addition, it was the fourth shutout in the series between ACU and WT as the Buffaloes blanked Abilene Christian 35-0 in 1921, 12-0 in 1932, 20-0 in 1997 and tonight. All four shutouts were in Canyon.

Once again, the Buffalo defense came up big as junior linebacker Taylor McCuller had 13 total tackles with seven solo stops and six assisted. He had one sack for five yards and 2.5 tackles for loss for eight yards. In all, WT had 13 tackles for loss (61 yards) tying its season-high set at Incarnate Word and eight sacks Saturday also tying the season-high set at Incarnate Word. The eight sacks totaled 50 yards against the Wildcats.

WT came up with two interceptions as reigning Lone Star Conference Defensive Player of the Week junior defensive back Curtis Slater had his third pick in his last two games and junior defensive back Chris Metcalf had his first interception on the year returning it 15 yards.

After ACU was forced to punt on its initial drive helped out by a huge junior Bryan Johnson sack, WT took the ball at its 20 and went 11 plays on 80 yards in 4:16 as Vaughan hooked up with Hammargren for a 14-yard strike and a 7-0 game. On the drive, WT converted two third downs to keep the drive alive in a very methodical drive down the field.

The Wildcats and Buffs punted on their next two possessions, but the WT special teams came up huge as junior punter Kevin VanVoris pinned ACU at its own two. Junior deep snapper Ramon Lopez ran down field and downed the ball at the two. VanVoris had five punts for 203 yards and 40.6 average for the night with a season-high four inside the 20 and a touchback. He also had six kickoffs for 390 yards for a 65.0 average and five touchbacks.

Just as the special teams made the great play to down the ball, the defense came up with the interception on the ACU drive as junior defensive back Chris Metcalf picked off the Mitchell Gale offering returning it 15 yards. WT settled for a 35-yard field goal from junior Sergio Castillo, Jr.

The teams then traded punts and WT got the ball back with 1:19 remaining in the half. Vaughan completed a pass to redshirt freshman Jarrian Rhone on third down and had a 17-yard completion to junior Torrence Allen on 3rd and 15 from the WT 44. Castillo made a career and Lone Star Conference season-long 56-yard field goal as time expired for a 13-0 lead. The school-record field goal was a 58-yarder by Bruce Wyre against Louisville on Nov. 24, 1973.

The Buffs took the opening kick of the third quarter and went eight-play for 75 yards in 3:46 as Robinson scored from one yard out for a 20-0 lead. It was Robinsonâ??s second rushing touchdown of the season. After a three-and-out by ACU, Vaughan hooked up with Slaughter to Rhone for a 75-yard strike and a touchdown on two plays for 82 yards and a 27-0 lead with 8:37 remaining in the third. It was Rhoneâ??s first collegiate touchdown.

After punts by both teams, ACU took over at its 12. Gale was sacked by Johnson and senior Tyrell Higgins for a loss of nine yards. After an incomplete pass, Higgins and junior Shane Pennix sacked Gale in the end zone for a safety and a 29-0 lead. It was the third safety of the season for the Buffaloes.

Vaughan and Slaughter hooked up for a 31-yard score early in the fourth quarter for a 36-0 lead.

Gale was 17 of 29 with two interceptions and 207 yards and was sacked eight times. Charcandrick West had six carries for 16 yards on the ground, while he led the team in receiving yards with six receptions for 56 yards. Darrell Cantu-Harkless also had six receptions for 55 yards. Angel Lopez led the team with 13 tackles and one tackle for loss. Reigning conference sack leader, Nick Richardson had just two tackles and no sacks.

The Buffaloes return to the road for two games beginning next Saturday at 7 p.m. CT at Eastern New Mexico in the annual Wagon Wheel game and then to West Georgia for an Oct. 27 matchup with kick scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. WT then returns home to host rival Midwestern State Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. in the final regular season home game.