ACU opened the game with a 33-yard pass from quarterback Mitchell Gale, playing in the final home game of his career, to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. The Wildcats successfully gambled on a fourth-down-and-1 from the West Alabama 22 yard line. Three plays later, Ryan Owens kicked a 34-yard field goal to put his team on top, 3-0 with 9:58 left in the first quarter.
West Alabama's first drive was stopped by the Wildcat defense, and Darrell Cantu-Harkless returned the Tiger punt 71 yards to the UWA 9-yard line. Three plays later, Charcandrick West barreled up the middle for a 1-yard TD. Owens’ successful PAT gave ACU a 10-0 lead with 5:50 remaining.
The quarter ended with ACU beginning its third drive of the game.