When Garrett Lindholm’s second field goal in 12 seconds split the uprights at the buzzer for a 31-28 Tarleton win over Midwestern Saturday night, the almost 5,000 in attendance at Tarleton Memorial Stadium were in awe.
The 1,500 or so on Midwestern’s side were shocked their team lost, the 3,500 or so on the Tarleton side - many of whom rushed the field to join in the celebration - were ecstatic their team somehow, someway, pulled off the win.
Tarleton, which trailed 21-3 in the second quarter before scoring 28 of the final 35 points, never led until the end of the final play, and was tied for less than four minutes - Midwestern jumped ahead 7-0 just more than three minutes into the game and led until Lindholm’s tying field goal at the 12-second mark of the fourth.
The Texans are now back on track in the hunt for the Lone Star Conference and South Division titles and the NCAA Division II playoffs, as they are 6-1 overall, 4-1 in conference play and 1-1 in the South. Midwestern fell to 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the LSC and 1-2 in South play.
The victory also lifted Tarleton to No. 13 in the American Football Coaches Association Poll.
Lindholm has kicked some big field goals in his Tarleton career, but Saturday marked the first time he delivered a game-winning kick.
The senior from Pflugerville, who is 8-8 from 40 yards and longer this season, set a school record with his 55-yard winner, breaking the old mark of 54 yards by Vince Oldag in 1983. On Monday he was named the LSC South Special Teams Player of the Week.
Lindholm, who has received attention from NFL scouts, is 10-12 on field goals and 26-26 on PATs this season.
Best comeback since 1985
Before Saturday, Tarleton had never erased more than a 14-point deficit and won since joining NCAA Division II.
The 18-point comeback is the second biggest in school history. The Texans erased a 21-point deficit in a 24-21 win against Austin College on Oct. 19, 1985.
Tarleton has overcome double-digit deficits and won only 13 times since 1980.
Saturday’s game certainly wasn’t a dominant effort, and several others between the Texans and Mustangs in recent years have been close. Overall, however, Tarleton has enjoyed a decade of pure dominance in the series.
Tarleton’s last loss to Midwestern came in 2000. The Texans won in 2001 before the series stalled while Tarleton was a member of the LSC North in 2002 and 2003. They have played every year since 2004, with the Texans winning each time. Tarleton has now won seven straight in the series, and is the only school Midwestern has faced more than once and never beat in the Bill Maskill head coaching era.
Back on track
Tarleton finally picked up a “quality” win against a team with a winning record, and it helped the Texans tremendously in the Super Region IV poll. The Texans did not make the top 10 in the poll last week, but are No. 9 in the latest regional rankings that came out on Monday. They still need to move up at least three spots before the end of the season as the top six in the final regional poll advance to the national playoffs.
Tarleton would certainly make the playoffs by winning out and going 10-1 on the year, and would have a shot by winning three of four to finish 9-2.
The Texans also stayed in contention for LSC and LSC South titles, staying within one game of co-leaders Abilene Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Tarleton makes the long trip to Black Water Draw, NM for this Saturday’s contest against Eastern New Mexico. The Greyhounds are 2-5 on the season and 0-3 in the South, despite leading the nation in total offense and passing yards.
Sophomore quarterback J.J. Harp has passed for 3,245 yards and 22 touchdowns, averaging 463.6 yards per game. He is interception prone, however, having been picked off 13 times in seven weeks.
Tarleton has won its last five against ENMU dating back to 2001. That run includes last year’s 42-21 Texan homecoming win. From 1961-2000, the Greyhounds defeated Tarleton 12 straight times.
Kickoff at Greyhound Stadium is set for 7 p.m. CST (6 p.m. MST).