For the first time Saturday in 57 years, the Abilene Christian University Wildcats did not play as intended, with record-breaking rainfall and flood warnings as the culprits.
A two-day downpour in Central Texas has dumped upwards of 20 inches of rain in places such as Corsicana. San Antonio – where ACU opponent University of the Incarnate Word is located – saw a one-day rainfall record of more than 3.53 inches with up to 3 more inches possible.
The deluge has thrown a Texas-sized wet blanket over UIW’s Homecoming weekend. It also was enough for the Alamo City to, well, close the Alamo – it is Founders Day today – as well as major tourist attractions Seaworld, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and the local zoo.
UIW postponed men’s and women’s soccer matches and the university – whose Benson Stadium for football sits, elevation-wise, well below its main campus – decided to throw in the towel and agree with ACU officials to try again tomorrow in what could be the first Wildcat football game to be played on a Sunday.
Kickoff tomorrow is set for 2 p.m., assuming the remnants of Hurricane Patricia don’t cause even more problems; forecasts call for up to another foot of precipitation for the region.
Even bone-dry Abilene has seen more than 5 inches of rain in the last two days.
The last time an ACU football game was cancelled by weather was Sept. 21, 1957, when Commerce was hit hard by a four-hour downpour just before game time. The contest between ACU and East Texas State (now known as Texas A&M-Commerce) was mutually agreed upon by Wildcat athletics director A.B. Morris and Lion head coach J.V. Sikes to be cancelled because of risks to the “health of the players” and “damage to stadium equipment,” according to Abilene Reporter-News sportswriter Fred Sanner. The game was not rescheduled.
“Saturday’s cancellation shouldn’t have happened to anyone,” wrote Sanner, “unless it was the four game officials who tucked away their checks and drove home to spend the evening in a dry living room.”
Even more unhappy than the wet writer were the two chartered busloads of alumni from Dallas arriving just before kickoff, “only to find that the game had been called off and that the ACC team had returned to Greenville,” reported Sanner, who also cited the misfortune of family members of a player who had drove from Wichita, Kan., to Commerce, only to be disappointed.
The 1957 Wildcats finished 5-3-1 for head coach N.L. “Nick” Nicholson, including a win over North Texas and losses to Florida State and Southern Mississippi. They were powered by Jimmy Hirth (’59), who was ACU’s second leading career rusher when he graduated – and was inducted in 2001 to his alma mater’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The most well-known rescheduled ACU football game was in 1963, when the Wildcats and Fresno State University Bulldogs postponed their Nov. 23 matchup because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the day before in Dallas. The game was played instead on Nov. 30, with ACU winning 32-29.