KINGSVILLE - No. 11 Tarleton State had its chances, but turnovers and penalties doomed its upset bid in a 34-20 loss to No. 9 Texas A&M-Kingsville in a Lone Star Conference South Division thriller in front of more than 10,000 fans at Javelina Stadium Saturday night.
The Javelinas improved to 6-0 on the season and 2-0 in the South, while Tarleton fell to 5-1 and 1-1, respectively.
The Texans overcame a 14-0 second-quarter deficit and knotted the score at 20-20 before three turnovers in the final minutes led to a pair of Kingsville scores.
Tarleton quarterback Scott Grantham fumbled while being sacked by Marcus Sanders and the Javelinas’ Mike Talamantez covered up the loose ball.
Three plays and a Tarleton penalty later, Texas A&M-Kingsville was in the end zone with the winning score on a seven-yard pass from Billy Garza to E.J. LeBlanc that made it 27-20.
After passing for a first down on the opening play of the ensuing possession, Grantham had a screen pass picked off and TAMUK was back in business in Tarleton territory.
It took only one play to turn the takeaway into points this time as Fred Winborn burst free for a 42-yard scoring run to provide the final tally with 2:32 remaining.
The TD was the second for Winborn, who rushed for 138 yards on 17 carries. TAMUK rushed for 232 total yards against a Tarleton defense that had not allowed any previous opponent to run for more than 100 yards.
Tarleton tried frantically to score and setup a potential onside kick scenario in the final moments, but receiver Shon Ragon fumbled and turned it over yet again at the Javelina one.
TAMUK jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on a 21-yard TD run by Ryan Lincoln and a five-yard pass from Garza to Sherman Batiste.
Tarleton answered with a 25-yard field goal by Garrett Lindholm, who had previously missed a three-point kick in the first quarter, and trailed 14-3 at the half.
After a quick defensive stop on the opening possession of the third, the Texans marched 56 yards in eight plays and pulled within four on an 18-yard pass from Grantham to Devin Guinn.
Another touchdown setup by a Tarleton turnover put Kingsville ahead 20-10 when Winborn scored his first TD on a six-yard run following an interception by Jeff Edwards. It would have been 21-10 except the PAT kick was blocked.
The Texans came right back with a seven-play, 54-yard drive that Grantham finished himself with a one-yard sneak.
Lindholm then finished Tarleton’s longest scoring drive - 13 plays, 60 yards - with a 40-yard field goal against a stiff wind that tied the score with 9:16 left in the fourth.
Tarleton finished with six turnovers - three Grantham interceptions and three on fumbles. Texas A&M-Kingsville had just one turnover on a first quarter interception.
Tarleton was also hurt by ill-timed penalties. The Texans were flagged 17 times for 118 yards, the Javs nine times for 83 yards.
Guinn was the offensive leader for Tarleton with nine receptions for 119 yards, helping Grantham finish 20-37 for 256 yards.
Garza was 12-26 for 151 yards for the Javelinas, who outgained Tarleton 379-368 in total offense.