But Saturday night, the Greyhounds rolled into Shotwell Stadium with the top-ranked offense and passing offense in NCAA Division II football and looking to make an early statement in the LSC South Division opener for both teams.
The Greyhounds made plenty of noise throughout, but fortunately for the Wildcats, Reggie Brown turned out to be the biggest dog in the fight, rushing for a career-best 235 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries to lead the Wildcats to a come-from-behind 44-33 win in front of 8,542 fans.
All three of his touchdowns came in the decisive fourth quarter as the Wildcats twice rallied from 11-point second-half deficits to win. The victory is the Wildcats program-record 15th straight regular-season win and pushes them to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the LSC and 1-0 in the LSC South. ENMU, meanwhile, falls to 2-3, 2-2 and 0-1.
Sophomore running back Daryl Richardson carried it 21 times for 143 yards to give the Wildcats two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since Oct. 7, 2006, when Chancy Campbell (163 yards) and Taber Minner (114 yards) did it in a 45-20 win over Northeastern State.
ENMU brought the nations No. 1 passing offense (593.2 yards per game) and No. 1 total offense (668.8 yards per game) into the contest, but the ACU defense was ready, holding the Greyhounds to just 303 total yards, including minus-1 rushing yard.
Harp was picked off three times and was held to only 304 yards through the air, just a little more than half his per-game total entering the contest. ACUs defense harassed Harp and his receivers all night, finishing with four sacks, seven tackles for loss and 14 pass breakups.
Senior safety Tony Harp led a slew of outstanding efforts on the defensive side of the ball with seven tackles, one interception and two pass breakups. Kevin Washington was a force all night, finishing with three tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one force fumble and four quarterback hurries.
Despite all of the glowing post-game numbers, the Wildcats found themselves in a dogfight against the Greyhounds. ENMU held a 13-9 halftime lead and extended it to 20-9 early in the third quarter when Mark Patterson returned an interception 61 yards for a score. On the ensuing kickoff, Justin Johnson returned the kick 100 yards for a score, joining Steve Parker and John Hooper as the only Wildcats to return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
The Greyhounds responded, though, marching 66 yards on five plays and using just 53 seconds to score on a Harp-to-JT Thompson 10-yard touchdown pass. The extra point gave the Greyhounds a 27-16 lead with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
After ACU scored on a 38-yard pass from Zach Stewart to Edmund Gates to make it 27-23 with 5:10 to play, the Greyhounds pushed the lead back to 30-23 with 38 seconds left in the quarter on a Taylor Cannon 39-yard field goal. But the Wildcats turned the game over to the running game in the fourth quarter, running the ball 17 times for 145 yards while only attempting two passes. Brown had 87 yards and three scores in the fourth, while Richardson had 57 yards in the final 15 minutes.
Brown scored on a 6-yard run with 14:55 left in the game to knot it at 30-30, but the Greyhounds answered with a 62-yard drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal from Cannon to make it a 33-30 game with 12:27 to play.
But Brown scored twice in a 24-second span of the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats a 44-30 lead. After a 15-yard touchdown run made it 37-33 with 5:58 to play, Major Culbert picked off a Harp pass and returned it to the ENMU 22-yard line. Brown did the rest, scoring from 22 yards out on the drives first play to make it 44-33 with 5:34 left in the game.
The Greyhounds drove to ACUs 25 in the games final minutes, but turned it over on downs with 3:25 to play after Craig Harris broke up a fourth-down pass intended for JT Thompson. The Wildcats -- behind a 52-yard run by Richardson to the ENMU 3-yard line were able to run the clock out to secure their fourth straight win over the Greyhounds.