Taylor Harris passed for 536 yards - the most ever allowed by Tarleton State - and four touchdowns as West Texas A&M (6-5, 4-2) upset the No. 7 Texans (9-2, 4-2) 49-35 in the Lone Star Conference South Division finale for both teams at Tarleton Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Tarleton had a chance to win the outright LSC and South crowns for the first time in school history, but instead splits the league-wide championship for the second time and the South title for the third time.
Tarleton, Midwestern State and Texas A&M-Kingsville each went 7-2 in conference games to share the LSC championship. WT joins them atop the South as all four had 4-2 marks in division play.
The Buffaloes knocked off the Texans in a season finale surrounded by playoff and league title implications for the fifth straight year, and took a 10-9 lead in the all-time series between the schools. Tarleton head coach Sam McElroy is now 0-5 against WT, while Buffalo head man Don Carthel moved to 5-0 against the Texans.
The third quarter had been the Texans' best friend all season, but turned into their worst enemy on Satuday. They had drubbed previous opponents by a combined 100-8 in the period, but saw a 14-14 halftime tie turn into a 42-21 deficit when they were outscored 28-7 in the third Saturday.
Tarleton punt returner Devin Guinn muffed a punt that was recovered by WT's Curtis Slater and Keithon Flemming scored the second of his three touchdowns four plays later to put the Buffaloes on top to stay.
Brittan Golden turned a screen pass into a long touchdown for the second time when he went 53 yards to the house to make it 28-14. He had previously scored on a 92-yard catch and run in the second period.
The next Tarleton possession ended in disaster when Kyle Hopf had a punt blocked by Anthony Burrell. Harris went over the top of the defense for a 35-yard TD to Stephen Burton on the next play for a 21-point lead.
The Texans pulled within two scores on their next possession when a double pass worked to perfection as the ball went from quarterback Scott Grantham to full back Keith Demby and then finally 51 yards to Devin Guinn in the end zone.
WT answered right back with Flemming's final TD and the Buffs held a commanding lead entering the fourth.
Tarleton rallied at the start of the final period with Demby scoring from one-yard out to make it a 14-point game again. The TD was set up by a 48-yard pass from Grantham to Hobson followed by a fourth-down pass interference penalty in the end zone.
On their next possession, the Texans turned to trickery again, this time in the form of a flea flicker that ended with Grantham hitting Guinn for 43 yards. The two then hooked up for a 10-yard score and Tarleton was within seven with 9:33 still to play. Guinn ended up with 161 yards on eight catches. His two TD receptions give him 25 for his career, tying him with Jeremy Madkins (2003-06) for the school's career record.
It was to no avail, however, as Harris and the Buffs finished the scoring when the trigger puller hit Tyson Williams from 21 yards out.
Grantham was picked off by Curtis Jefferson to end the Texans' next possession, and their final drive faltered after just one first down when four straight passes fell incomplete.
Harris, who completed his first 16 pass attempts before his 17th was intercepted, went 20-22 in the first half on his way to finishing an impressive 31-37 (83.8 percent). His record for the most passing yards ever against a Tarleton defense came 15 years after the previous record was set by WT with 473 yards on Oct. 29, 1994.
The first of Golden's two long TDs gave the Buffs a 14-7 lead late in the first. Golden finished with 201 yards on six grabs.
Grantham, who finished 19-39 for 317 yards, two touchdowns and a pick for Tarleton, hit Hobson from six yards out to tie the score at 14-14 with just 43 seconds remaining in the first half. Hobson joined Guinn in topping the century mark in receiving yards with 109 on three grabs.
The teams' first scores came when Flemming, who had 108 yards rushing and 73 receiving, put the Buffs on the board before Tarleton tied it on a two-yard plunge by Demby, who rushed for two scores and passed for another.
WT finished with 635 yards, the most surrendered by Tarleton this year. The 49 points is also the most against the Texans this season.
Tarleton tallied 443 yards of total offense in the loss, despite rushing for only 68.