STEPHENVILLE - No. 16 Tarleton State rode a strong defensive effort to a 24-7 victory over Texas A&M Commerce in Lone Star Conference crossover play here Saturday.
With the win, the Texans join the 2002 and 2005 Tarleton teams as the third this decade to begin a season 4-0. The Texans now take aim at the school’s first 5-0 start since 1990. They’ll get their shot next Saturday when they host Southwestern Oklahoma State in the final crossover contest before the beginning of South Division play. The game will serve as the climax of family weekend festivities on campus.
The Tarleton defense shut TAMC out over the last three periods, after surrendering an early score. Overall, the Lions tallied only 236 yards total yards of offense, with 169 coming through the air and only 67 on the ground.
For the first time of the 2007 season, Tarleton failed to score on its initial possession. The Texans did, however, find the end zone on their following drive, as Travis Evans spun away from a tackle at the line of scrimmage and bounced outside for a two-yard scoring run. The drive covered 76 yards in eight plays, and the first of Stephen Arnold’s three extra point kicks gave Tarleton the lead at 7-0 with 6:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Texas A&M-Commerce answered the challenge with their following possession, using just under four minutes to take the ball 60 yards in eight plays. Quarterback Terry Mayo connected with tight end Darr Nieuwoudt on a 20-yard scoring strike. Chris Quiroga was true on the PAT, and the score was tied 7-7 at the 3:51 mark of the first.
Tarleton regained the advantage near the end of the opening period on Michael Sampson’s first touchdown of the 2007 season. His one-yard run to pay dirt put the Texans ahead for good with 1:31 on the clock. Sampson is the returning LSC South Division Offensive Back of the Year, but missed the first two games this fall with a nagging hamstring injury. He rushed for 64 yards at Southeastern Oklahoma State, but did not find the end zone.
Stephen Arnold finished the first half scoring with a 33-yard field goal at the 8:14 mark of the second, and Tarleton led 17-7.
The defense continued to dominate in the second half, and after a scoreless third period, Tarleton quarterback Scott Grantham split two defenders to hit Shamarr Prentice in the end zone on an eight-yard pass. Arnold’s last PAT of the night gave the contest its final score.
Grantham continues to dial up sophomore Devin Guinn’s number in the passing game. Guinn snagged four receptions for 131 yards Saturday, pushing his season totals to 17 grabs for 384 yards through four games.
Tarleton had its slowest night on the ground so far this fall, compiling only 120 rushing yards. Evans led the way with 66 yards on 12 carries.
TAMC, a member of the LSC North, is now 1-4 on the season, and 1-2 in LSC crossover action.