CLEVELAND, Miss. — Tarleton State University dropped its 2017 football season opener Saturday afternoon on the road to Delta State University, 34-16.
Zed Woerner entered at quarterback for TSU midway through the fourth quarter and on his first drive, the senior connected with Savon Rollison for a 22-yard touchdown pass, making the score 34-10. Woerner followed up with another touchdown drive, this time finding Thomas on a 30-yard strike in the corner of the end zone. Thomas hauled in a game-high nine receptions for 124 yards.
With his second touchdown pass, Woerner surpassed Steve Kelly for second place on the Tarleton career touchdown list with 52. Woerner trails only Scott Grantham, who threw 57 touchdown passes.
Tarleton managed 366 yards of total offense compared to Delta State's 378 yards. Kiser threw for a game-high 201 yards on 19-of-35 passing with two interceptions. Woerner threw for 57 yards on 4-of-8 passing and two touchdowns.
Tarleton will make its home debut as the Texans take on Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.
The Texans had a promising opening drive Saturday, converting three times on third down to get inside the Delta State 10 yard line.
Facing another third down and long, quarterback Derek Kiser threw a ball to the corner of the end zone and was picked off by the Statesmen, who then returned the interception 100 yards for the game's first touchdown.
Delta State added another touchdown in the second quarter on a 5-yard run by Chris Robinson to go up 13-0.
On the ensuing possession, Kiser got the Texans moving down field with a 26-yard pass to Del'Michael High, followed by a 15-yard run by Daniel McCants and a 15-yard completion to Jeff Thomas. A pass interference penalty put Tarleton at the Delta State 11, but the Texans could not capitalize and settled for a 30-yard field goal by Sergio Sroka to cut the deficit to 13-3.
Delta State punched in another score on a 4-yard run with 1:38 left on the clock in the first half. The Statemen led 20-3 at the break, despite Tarleton recording more yards offensively than Delta State, 228-214.
In the second half, Delta State added a touchdown in the third and fourth quarter to take the game's biggest lead at 34-3.
Tarleton had two straight turnovers to start the fourth quarter - an interception and a fumble on a punt - to give the Texans three turnovers in the game.
The Texans struggled to run the ball against the Statesmen, as they ran the ball 35 times for 108 yards. Xavier Turner led the Texans with 56 yards on the ground.
Defensively, Basil Jackson led the Texans with 13 tackles while E.J. Speed added 12 as the only two Texans with double-digit tackles. Andrew Blackshire had six tackles and an interception and David Fanqupo recovered a Delta State fumble.