Tarleton is no longer undefeated, but still has plenty to play for with just one loss.
The Texans, 5-1 overall, 3-1 in the Lone Star Conference and 0-1 in the LSC South, had too many costly turnovers to pull off the upset of Texas A&M-Kingsville in a 34-20 loss at crowded Javelina Stadium Saturday.
The defeat puts even more weight on an already big game against Midwestern State this week, as both teams have one loss and can ill-afford another with a handful of tough contests remaining on both schools’ schedules.
Too many turnovers
Six times Tarleton turned the ball over on Saturday, leading to three TAMUK touchdowns. Three of the Javelina takeaways came in the final eight minutes after the Texans had battled back from a 14-0 deficit to tie the score at 20-20.
Tarleton was in possession and driving for a potential go-ahead score when quarterback Scott Grantham was sacked from his blind side and lost the ball. TAMUK recovered and scored three plays later, then scored on one play after Grantham’s third interception to make it 34-20.
Tarleton turned it over again on a Shaun Ragon fumble at the Javelina one, preventing the Texans from scoring and attempting an onside kick in the waning moments.
Since becoming a full-fledge member of NCAA Division II and the LSC in 1995, Tarleton is now 37-14 when they are ranked in the top 25 by the American Football Coaches Association, including 20-10 on the road. The Texans are now 11-28 when playing against ranked teams including a 7-13 mark when both teams are ranked and 4-8 when both are ranked and they are the visiting team.
Against Texas A&M-Kingsville, the Texans are 1-6 when ranked and 0-8 when the Javelinas are ranked, including 0-5 when both are in the AFCA poll.
Tarleton is now just 1-13 all time against top 10 teams in D2.
“D” still solid
Yes the Tarleton defense surrendered more than 100 (and 200) yards rushing for the first time this season, but the Texans still didn’t have a bad night defensively.
Texas A&M-Kingsville scored right at its average (33.8 points entering Saturday), but three of those TDs came off Tarleton turnovers. The Texan defense only allowed two other scoring drives all night.
The Javs rolled to 378 total yards, but that was 93 below their average (471) entering the game.
Robertson picks up the slack
With Roderick Smith appearing to be slowed physically (11 carries, 7 yards) Evan Robertson picked up the slack. The sophomore transfer from North Texas rushed for 96 yards on 15 trips.
Robertson is now Tarleton’s leading rusher for the season with 517 yards. Smith has 430.
It doesn’t get much harder than a trip to Kingsville, where the Texans have won just once in school history. But then again, it doesn’t get a whole lot easier this week.
Tarleton welcomes 5-1 Midwestern State to Memorial Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.
The Mustangs are fresh off a 31-19 win against West Texas A&M, evening their LSC South mark at 1-1 after falling to Angelo State 20-17 the previous week.
Tarleton has owned Midwestern in recent years, winning six straight by an average of 17.8 points. Tarleton leads the all-time series 13-4, including a 4-0 mark with Sam McElroy as head coach.
The Texans rolled passed Midwestern 37-16 in Wichita Falls last year.