CANYON - Each of the last three seasons, West Texas A&M has denied the Tarleton Texans entrance into the NCAA Division II national playoffs..
And the old saying was said, “There’s always next year.”
Next year has come and gone, and again the Texans (8-3, 3-3 LSC South) were in all likelihood denied a playoff berth again after getting shutout, 51-0, by the Buffaloes (10-1, 5-1 LSC South) in Canyon during Lone Star Conference South play Saturday.
This was the first time since Nov. 1, 1995 that the Texans were held scoreless, and matched their worst loss since losing 61-10 to Sam Houston in 2001.
The Texan offense was, to say the least, ineffective.
Quarterback Scott Grantham turned the ball over four times, tossing two interceptions and losing two fumbles, and went 12-29 for 134 yards, only 32 of them in the second half.
This was the second time this season Tarleton turned the ball over four times in a game, with the first coming in a 37-17 loss to Abilene Christian.
Travis Evans ran the ball only six times but led the Texans with 92 yards, while Roderick Smith rushed 16 times and racked up 63 yards, giving him 1,024 on the season to become the first Texan to rush for 1,000 yards since Derrick Ross in 2005.
Tarleton only reached the red zone twice in the contest, each time leaving a short field goal attempt for Garrett Lindholm from 28 and 27 yards out, and both times the kicks sailed wide right.
WT owned the Texans in every aspect of the contest, most impressively in the ground game.
Tarleton came into the contest seventh in the LSC in rush defense and first in total defense, but the Buffs tallied 253 yards as a team, with Keithon Flemming leading the way with 128 yards on 18 trips and two touchdowns. Wayne McKnight was a nice complement with 103 yards on nine carries and two scores of his own.
Despite the dominant ground game, West Texas didn’t shy away from the air attack.
Keith Null went 21-26 for 227 yards and two touchdowns to Carl Johnson, who grabbed seven passes for 84 yards.
Null moved into second place in WT career pass completions, while Charly Martin became the Buffs’ all-time reception leader.
Just like last year against Tarleton, West Texas topped the 500 yard mark of total offense, posting 578 yards on 76 snaps.
The scoring started for the Buffs in the first quarter when Flemming trotted in from two-yards out and continued when James Chandler booted an 18-yard field goal with 2:37 left in the quarter.
In the second, Johnson hauled in a 15-yard touchdown toss from Null and Wayne McKnight ran in from two-yards deep to give the Buffs a commanding 24-0 lead heading into halftime.
Out of the break, Null hooked up with Johnson again with 6:16 to play from eight yards out, and the tailback tandem would strike again before the fourth when Flemming cruised in with a 50-yard run and McKnight struck with a 57-yard run with just under a minute left.
West Texas found the end zone once more in the final frame when backup quarterback Taylor Harris found A.J. Ruffins for a 13-yard pitch and catch for six to give the contest its final score with 6:18 left in the game.
Tarleton came into the contest as the No. 6 seed in Super Region Four, and still has a slim chance of advancing to the postseason. No. 7 Nebraska-Omaha, the only other team likely to be considered for the sixth and final spot, was victorious on Saturday.
The final playoff brackets will be announced at 2p.m. today on ESPN News.