Stephenville — The Tarleton Texans proved that their undefeated start is no fluke by defeating the No. 16-ranked Midwestern State Mustangs 44-32 in a Lone Star Conference shootout.
Tarleton’s defense decided to show up during the second half and held the Mustangs to nine points, while the Texan offense put up 17 points to pull away and take the victory.
Tarleton started the scoring when they stopped Midwestern on the opening drive of the game, and then drove the ball down to the 10-yard line where Stephen Arnold put the ball through the uprights to give Tarleton a 3-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long. Joe Chatman capped off the Mustang drive with a 27-yard touchdown run. Chatman ran for 135 yards and quarterback Daniel Polk also had 122 rushing yards of his own. This marked the first time an opponent has had two 100 yard rushers in a game since 2002.
Tarleton quarterback Scott Grantham found Michael Sampson on the end of a 23-yard pass to give the Texans a 10-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Grantham completed 21 of his 32 pass attempts for 225 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
The second quarter was an offensive explosion beginning with Chatman punching it in from two yards out.
On the following Texan possession, another field goal by Arnold from 34 yards out had the score knotted at 13-13.
Midwestern took the lead when Polk ran it in from six yards deep. On the ensuing kickoff, Tarleton’s Marcus Phillips muffed the kickoff allowing Midwestern to recover the football. The Mustangs took the ball and tacked on a 30-yard field goal to make it a two-score game.
The way the defense was playing at the time, the game appeared to be getting out of hand..
Grantham fumbled the ball on the Midwestern 20-yard line, but it was recovered by center Dustin Washburn. On the following play, Grantham found Shamarr Prentice in the end-zone for the touchdown. Grantham found Prentice six times for 78 yards.
Midwestern took control on their own 21-yard line, and the defense came up with a strong defensive stand to force a three and out. Punt returner Nathan Robinson took the punt 87 yards to the house to put the Texans back in the lead 27-23.
The Mustangs attempted a field goal with :05 left in the half, but the snap was botched and the Texans took the lead into halftime.
After the half, the Texan defense was on fire. Despite a 27-yard field goal by Midwestern on their first drive of the third quarter and a seven yard touchdown run by Marcus Mathis. The defense was improved, holding MSU scoreless after those scores.
Tarleton’s defense was led in tackles by Blake Bueltel and Keaton Daniels with nine. Jamal Steamer and Tywain Myles lead the team in sacks. Steamer sacked Polk twice for eight yards and Myles recorded a five-yard sack. Steamer also had three additional tackles for a loss.
Two Travis Evans touchdown runs put the nail in the Mustangs’ coffin in the fourth quarter.
Evans was the Texans’ leading rusher with 104 yards on 13 carries.
The Texans were ranked No. 13 in the AFCA polls before Saturday’s victory over the No. 16 Mustangs, and were ranked 6th in the Southwest Regional Polls trailing the No. 5 Mustangs, who now fall to 5-2 on the season.
The Texans kept their winning streak alive and now carry the momentum into next week’s game against Eastern New Mexico. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MST in Blackwater Draw, N.M.