Roderick Smith wasted no time backing up his 2009 Lone Star Conference South Division Preseason Offensive Player of the Year award, scoring four touchdowns as Tarleton State coasted past Arkansas-Monticello 45-16 in the season opener for both schools at Memorial Stadium Thursday night.
Smith, a senior, scored on runs of 32, 13, 10 and 2 yards - all in the first half - and sat out virtually all of the second half after rushing for 80 yards on 11 carries. He tied Tarleton's single-game scoring record and moved within one touchdown of the school's career mark of 33.
Evan Robertson, a sophomore transfer from North Texas, added 85 yards on eight carries, and Tarleton finished with 233 rushing yards to go with 184 yards through the air for a total of 429 yards on the night.
Junior quarterback Scott Grantham, who was 8-14 passing for 160 yards, connected with Lester Hundley on a pair of third quarter scoring strikes covering 47 and five yards to put the game away. Devin Guinn was Grantham's favorite target, hauling in five passes for 104 yards.
The Tarleton defense was up to the challenge against Monticello quarterback Scott Buisson, the reigning Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Buisson was an effective 17-27 passing for 176 yards and a touchdown, but most of those numbers came after the game was out of reach.
Tarleton led 42-7 before Monticello added a 22-yard field goal by Derek Jambon. The Texans restored the five-touchdown advantage with a field goal of their own, a 44-yarder by Garrett Lindholm. UAM then added a meaningless touchdown on a 39-yard pass from Casey Cathcart to Nate Jones, and the Boll Weevils came up short trying to run for a two-point conversion.
The Texan stop troops limited Monticello to just 82 yards on the ground. UAM passed for 235 yards - most of it after the outcome was determined - giving them 317 yards of total offense.
Tarleton has now won three straight season openers and eight of its last 10 home openers.