CANYON – Trailing by 19 late in the third quarter, Tarleton's grit and determination was on full display Saturday night as a valiant comeback attempt came up just short in a 37-25 loss to West Texas A&M.
The teams, which had combined for 23 points in the first 41 minutes of action would go on to combine for 39 points in the final 18:54 as the heart of Tarleton was on full display in Canyon.
After a 14-yard Bubba Tandy touchdown pulled Tarleton within five with 3:54 left in the third quarter, West Texas A&M went on to add two touchdowns on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 1:53 left in the third quarter and a 35-yard scoop and score off a Tarleton fumble that appeared to put things out of reach at 31-18 with 8:30 left in the game.
But the Texans had another idea.
Zed Woerner came right back and hit Tandy in stride for a 60-yard touchdown pass. The defense did their job on the ensuing WT possession before Woerner and company continued the comeback effort with a 7-play, 68-yard drive capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by Curtis McGregor to make it a one possession game at 31-25 with 5:04 left in the game.
The Buffs answered with a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:21 left to make it a two-possession game. Tarleton drove down to the WT25 but couldn't punch it in to force an onside kick attempt as the time expired.
Woerner boasted his best individual performance of the season as the junior signal caller threw for 368 yards on 26-38 with three touchdowns and one pick. He found seven different receivers on the night, but none bigger than the trio of Jeff Thomas, Tandy, and Del'Michael High.
Thomas (132) and Tandy (125) each topped 100 yards with eight and five catches, respectively. They are the first Tarleton teammates to top 100 receiving yards in a game since Le'Nard Meyers and Tandy against Eastern New Mexico on Oct. 17, 2015. Tandy added a team-high two touchdowns and High chipped in with four catches for 62 yards and a score.
The Tarleton running game managed just 60 yards in the game, led by McGregor with 46 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.
Things started off a bit rocky for the visiting Texans as West Texas A&M scored on the first possession of the game and then again on their second possession for a 14-0 lead after Tarleton lost its first fumble on the second offensive play of the night.
With the first quarter winding down and WT leading by two scores, Dominique Martin ignited the Texan defense with an interception for one of Tarleton's three consecutive defensive stops.
As the defense made its adjustments, the offense started to find its own rhythm as Woerner found High on the other end of a 26-yard touchdown strike to put Tarleton on the board. The PAT was blocked and WT added a field goal before the end of the half to send the Texans into halftime trailing 17-6.
Neither team was able to get much offense working over the first 11 minutes of the new half, but the 14-yard touchdown grab from Tandy with 3:54 left in the third quarter started a brand new ball game.
Defensively, Azizullah Fifita led Tarleton with nine tackles. Chase Varnado made seven tackles, including a team-high two sacks, while Cody Burtscher and Dominique Martin had an interception each.
The Texans will return to Memorial Stadium to host UT Permian Basin on Family Weekend Saturday night in Stephenville at 7 p.m.