Kenny Barnes intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards to the Tarleton State 19 with 53 seconds to play, and Andrew Jones hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to lift Delta State (Miss.) to a 38-35 non-conference victory at Tarleton Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Delta State (2-3) had already scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, when they outscored Tarleton (2-3) 23-7. The Statesmen had been outscored 36-3 in the fourth quarter of their previous four games.
Tarleton led 28-15 before Delta scored 20 straight points in a matter of eight and a half minutes in the fourth. The Statesmen moved ahead 35-28 on a two-yard TD run with 6:13 left by quarterback Trevor Wooden, who passed for 223 yards and rushed for 87. He had two TDs through the air and one on the ground.
It took Tarleton just less than three minutes to answer, as Aaron Doyle tossed a 27-yard TD to Arthur Buckingham to even the score with 2:58 remaining.
The Texan defense forced a quick punt, and Tarleton took possession with a chance to go for the win with 1:06 to play and all its timeouts. But Doyle was hurried on the first play and his heave downfield was picked off by Barnes, who sprinted down the DSU sideline and almost broke away for a TD return.
Tarleton led 28-15 after the third, but Wooden scampered 13 yards for a score - the PAT failed - and Rondreas Truesdale rushed 34 yards for another to even it up at 28-28 with 11:37 to go.
Tarleton took a 21-15 when Jeken Frye hauled in a 43 yard TD pass from Doyle less than two minutes into the third, and added to the lead when Zach Henshaw took an option pitch from Doyle and raced around the left side for a six-yard TD with 3:37 left in the quarter.
DSU led 15-14 at halftime after a 50-yard bomb from Trevor Wooden to Erick Clayton with three seconds left in the half. Statesman cornerback Montavius Hill set up the score by intercepting a Doyle pass as the Texans were scrambling to score the break.
Delta's defense made a four-down goal line stand earlier in the second, stopping Henshaw short as he tried to leap in from the one.
The Statesmen took an 8-0 lead when Tarleton fumbled a punt snap. Punter Eric Arrellano kicked the ball off the ground illegally, it ricocheted off a DSU player and was recovered by Rondreas Truesdale for the touchdown just less than five minutes into the game. Wooden kept the ball himself and rushed for the two point conversion.
Tarleton answered when Doyle hit Cordell Valentine with a four-yard TD pass midway through the first. The Texans took a 14-8 lead on Doyle's second scoring strike, a seven-yard toss to Henshaw out of the backfield.
Doyle finished with four TDs and 293 yards through the air after completing 27 of 39 passes, but the Statesmen turned his two interceptions into 10 decisive points. He hit Clifton Rhodes III eight times for 73 yards.
The vaunted Texan rushing attack was limited to just 114 yards, half their average of 228 entering the game.
Wooden was 12-18 passing for Delta State. He actually rushed for a gain of 114 yards, but lost 27 on four sacks.
The teams played as part of the First-and-Ten Challenge that pairs Lone Star and Gulf South conference teams. Tarleton visits Texas A&M-Commerce in LSC play at 6 p.m. next Saturday.
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