Tarleton runs out of bullets on last drive of offensive thriller
STEPHENVILLE - No. 8 Tarleton and No. 21 Abilene Christian waged an offensive war for the ages Saturday, combining for over 1,300 yards in a 70-63 ACU win in Lone Star Conference South Division play.
Tarleton broke the NCAA Division II record for points scored by a losing team in a game that ended in regulation. The 133 combined points is the most ever for both schools, and second most nationally.
ACU running back Bernard Scott set school and conference records with 283 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Scott also threw a 66-yard touchdown pass and tallied 54 yards on five catches.
Tarleton quarterback Scott Grantham tied the LSC mark for touchdown passes in a game with six. The red shirt freshman completed 31 of 49 pass attempts for 384 yards and two interceptions. He distributed pass completions to nine different receivers.
Tarleton receivers Shamarr Prentice and Devin Guinn combined for 312 receiving yards, with Prentice catching 10 passes for 180 and Guinn snagging eight for 132. Guinn scored twice and Prentice once.
The two teams combined to have seven players record over 100 all-purpose yards, while an eighth finished with 92.
Bernard Scott scored the winning touchdown on a 10-yard run with exactly one minute remaining.
One minute seemed like an eternity in a game that featured seven touchdown drives of less than 60 seconds - four by ACU and three by Tarleton.
It would be a fourth down play, not the clock, however, that determined the final outcome.
A pass interference penalty against the Wildcats and two 14-yard completions by Grantham moved the ball to the ACU 24.
After a pair of incompletions and a one-yard run by Travis Evans, Tarleton faced fourth and nine. The Wildcat defense then came up with its only sack of the night as Joe Edwards drug Grantham to the ground to end the Texans' hopes of an undefeated season.
Tarleton drew first blood after ACU went three-and-out on the opening possession of the game. The Texans marched 50 yards in 11 plays and scored on a 14-yard pass from Grantham to Jason Mathias.
ACU needed only one play to knot the score, as Billy Malone hooked up with Johnny Knox on a 68-yard touchdown pass. Malone completed 17 of 33 pass attempts for 279 yards and two scores, while being picked off three times.
Tarleton came right back with a seven play drive that ended with Roderick Smith diving across the goal line on a 25-yard scoring run.
The Wildcats scored the next 28 points, with touchdown runs by Scott and Edmund Gates followed by a pair of touchdowns, one rushing the other receiving, by Knox, who scored the first three times he touched the ball.
Tarleton finished the first half scoring when Smith caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Grantham, cutting the ACU lead to 35-21 at the half.
The offensive juggernauts combined to score 56 points in the first half, and that was just the appetizer. The main course in the scoring buffet was still ahead, with 77 points coming in the third and fourth quarters.
Nathan Robinson returned the second half kickoff 78 yards to the ACU 11 to set up a nine-yard touchdown throw from Grantham to Prentice.
After Abilene Christian punted for only the second time in the game, Tarleton pulled even on a one-yard play action pass from Grantham to Hunter Storm.
Scott answered the challenge with four yard scoring run on the eighth play of the Wildcats' next possession, but the bad snap kept ACU from adding the PAT.
With 2:49 remaining in the third, Tarleton regained the lead on a one-yard run by Michael Sampson. The sixth of Stephen Arnold's nine extra point kicks made it 42-41.
An interception by Keaton Daniels set up another Sampson scoring run, this time from 13 yards out, and Tarleton had its largest lead at 49-41.
Scott scored the first of his four fourth quarter touchdowns with a two-yard run. Gates ran for the two-point conversion, and with 12:18 remaining the score was deadlocked for the fourth time at 49-49.
It took the Texans only one play and 14 seconds to take back the lead, as Devin Guinn caught a pass from Grantham and weaved his way through would-be tacklers for a 66-yard touchdown.
Back came the Wildcats, with Scott busting free for a 77-yard run to tie it at 56-56.
The Abilene Christian defense finally recorded its first three-and-out of the night, setting the stage for the game winner by Scott.
A crowd of 6,418 fans witnessed the fireworks show, the second largest homecoming crowd ever at Tarleton.
The Texans travel to play Angelo State in San Angelo Saturday, in a game that is almost a must-win for the Texans if they are to remain in contention for the conference and division titles and a spot in the playoffs.
Tarleton returns home Nov. 10 for the season finale against No. 5 West Texas A&M.