Tarleton State lost to West Texas A&M for the fifth straight time in a regular season finale when the Buffaloes amassed 635 yards in a 49-35 Lone Star Conference South Division game at Tarleton Memorial Stadium Saturday night, but the Texans’ year-long body of work was still enough to get a playoff nod.
No. 12 Tarleton, co-champ of both the LSC and the LSC South, visits No. 13 Texas A&M-Kingsville in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs at noon Saturday.
Back in the playoffs
Tarleton felt left out after going 9-2 and missing the post season in 2007, but this time that same record was good enough for the Texans to earn the No. 5 seed in Super Region Four (see related story).
The Texans, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, are one of a conference record four LSC teams to reach the post season. Midwestern State (9-2) is the No. 3 seed, TAMUK (9-2) is No. 4 and Abilene Christian (8-3) is No. 6.
Tarleton missed an opportunity to win its first outright LSC and South crowns, but did earn its second split of the league-wide title while sharing the South championship for the third time. The Texans split both the LSC and South titles with TAMUK in 2001 and finished as tri-champs in the South along with ACU and WTAMU in 2006.
Midwestern State and Texas A&M-Kingsville both split this year’s league-wide crown with Tarleton. West Texas A&M joins them in a four-way split of the South title.
Dang those Buffs
The Buffaloes of West Texas A&M won their fifth straight regular season finale against the Texans Saturday behind a big night for Taylor Harris, who was 31-37 passing for 536 yards and four touchdowns. It was the most passing yards ever allowed by a Tarleton defense.
Keithon Flemming scored three TDs for the Buffaloes while tallying 108 yards on the ground and 79 through the air.
WT picked up two long TDs on screen passes as speedy Brittan Golden raced away for scores covering 92 and 53 yards.
Guinn ties TD mark
Tarleton senior Devin Guinn tied Stephenville native Jeremy Madkins (2003-06) for the most receiving touchdowns in a career at the school with 25. Guinn hauled in scoring catches of 51 and 10 yards Saturday and finished with 161 yards on eight grabs.
Trickery works to perfection
Tarleton pulled off two trick plays to get within seven of the Buffs with still more than nine minutes remaining. A double pass went from quarterback Scott Grantham to full back Keith Demby and then to Guinn behind the defense for a 51-yard touchdown late in the third. In the fourth, Grantham handed off to Evan Robertson, who then pitched it back to the Texan quarterback on flea flicker. Grantham then hurled the ball downfield to Guinn for a 43-yard gain to set up a touchdown.
Demby has career night
Tarleton isn’t known for giving the ball to its fullback a great deal, but Demby made the most of every opportunity on Saturday.
Demby had the touchdown pass to Guinn on the double pass and also rushed for a pair of scores from the one and the two.
The Tarleton-TAMUK playoff opener is a rematch of an LSC South contest played in Kingsville on Oct. 3. The Javs won that battle 34-20.
The Texans erased a 14-3 halftime deficit in the first meeting and tied the score at 20-20 in the fourth. But three turnovers in the final six minutes - and six total giveaways in the game - proved to be too much for Tarleton to overcome.
TAMUK has lost two of its last four regular season games, but held off a furious Angelo State rally after building a 17-point advantage and won 35-32 at home Saturday to clinch a playoff berth..
Coincidentally, Tarleton’s last playoff game on Nov. 15, 2003 was also a first-round contest at Kingsville. The Javelinas won that match-up 34-10.