ST. GEORGE, Utah − Through the first half against Abilene Christian, the Utah Tech defense had the Wildcats stifled.
Starting quarterback Ethan Long completed 6 of 8 passes for 71 yards, while ACU had rushed for 78 yards on 24 carries.
Coming out of the half, the Wildcats returned to sophomore Maverick McIvor.
McIvor, a San Angelo Central grad and Texas Tech transfer, started the previous four games but an 0-for-4 showing against Western New Mexico last week led to a change to the Arizona State transfer Long.
Trailing 10-6, McIvor engineered a four-play, 64-yard drive that was capped by a Jermiah Dobbins' 5-yard TD run to give ACU its first lead at 13-10 midway through the third quarter
Dobbins’ score was set up by Blayne Taylor's 40-yard catch to the Utah Tech 5.
“I don’t think their quarterback play was that great either way,” Utah Tech coach Paul Peterson said. “When they were moving the ball most of the time, they were running it. But it was good, it was smart. Long wasn’t playing good enough.”
McIvor was 8-of-12 passing for 148 yards.
ACU would tack on two more Dobbins scores in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Trailblazers for a 26-10 victory in a Western Athletic Conference game Saturday night at Greater Zion Stadium.
Dobbins had 45 yards on 10 carries in the first half but finished with 130 yards on 25 touches.
Rovaugh Banks Jr. added 68 yards on 19 carries, as ACU generated 200 yards on the ground.
For Utah Tech, Quali Conley set a career-high with 148 yards and a score. He scored the only Utah Tech touchdown on a 15-yard run that was set up on a fumbled exchange between Long and Dobbins that was recovered by senior defensive lineman Dylan Hendrickson.
Victor Gabalis started the game, completing 7 of 13 passes in the first half, only to finish 12-of-34 for 112 yards with an interception.
Usual dangerous threat Joey Hobert was limited to five catches for 65 yards. Outside of a diving 43-yard catch, Hobert was shut down by the Wildcats defense.
WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
Abilene Christian 26, Utah Tech 10
UTA − Connor Brooksby 21 FG, 7:53
ACU − Blair Zepeda 37 FG, 7:40
UTA − Quali Conley 15 run (Brooksby kick), 5:53
ACU − Zepeda 30 FG, 00:38
ACU − Jermiah Dobbins 5 run (Zepeda kick), 6:33
ACU − Dobbins 12 run (Zepeda kick), 10:56
ACU − Dobbins 10 run (Zepeda kick), 2:48
RUSHING: ACU, Jermiah Dobbins 24-130, Rovaughn Banks Jr. 10-68, Ethan Long 5-4, TEAM 2-(minus 2. Utah Tech, Quali Conley 20-148, Jeter Fenton 1-31, Joey Hobert 1-5, Kyle Floyd 4-2, TEAM 1-(minus 1), Victor Gabalis 6-(minus 12).
PASSING: ACU, Maverick McIvor 7-12-0−148, Ethan Long 8-23-0−92. Utah Tech, Victor Gabalis 12-34-1−112.
RECEIVING: ACU, Blayne Taylor 4-70, Tristian Golightly 4-67, Kobe Clark 4-54, Patrick Ballard 1-20, Kendall Catalon 1-15, Jermiah Dobbins 1-14. Utah Tech, Joey Hobert 5-64, Rickie Johnson 4-40, Deven Osborne 1-10, Malcolm Turner-Ross 1-7, David Fisher 1-0;
RECORDS: ACU 4-1, 1-0; Utah Tech 1-4, 0-2.
This article originally appeared on St. George Spectrum & Daily News: Wildcats blanks Utah Tech in second half, pull away for 26-10 win