Texans host Hounds for Family Weekend
For the second straight week, Tarleton State had a chance to knock off a nationally-ranked opponent.
But after special teams won the Texans their season opener against defending Lone Star Conference champ and then No. 4 Midwestern State, it was the punt unit that let them down against No. 20 Abilene Christian in a 34-31 loss at Cowboys Stadium last Saturday.
ACU used a punt block by Darian Hogg and a 54-yard punt return by Taylor Gabriel - who scored two second-half touchdowns - to set up a pair of short touchdown drives to take the lead for good in the third quarter after Tarleton was up 20-10 at the break.
But Tarleton (1-1, 1-1) takes plenty of positives into its Family Weekend and LSC contest against Eastern New Mexico (2-1, 1-0), which kicks off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.
For one, the Texans racked up 556 yards of total offense against ACU, known as one of the Lone Star Conference's top defensive teams the last three years. Tarleton had 321 yards at halftime, and quarterback Aaron Doyle ripped the Wildcats for 377 yards and two scores on 39-52 passing.
Doyle spread the wealth, hitting Jeken Frye 10 times for 92 yards and Clifton Rhodes nine times for 106 yards. His TD passes were to running backs Vaughn Smith and Jerome Regal, and Regal topped the century mark in rushing yards for the second straight week.
Now the young Tarleton offense takes on an Eastern New Mexico defense that is surrendering 413.7 yards and 33.4 points per game. The Hounds have been ripped for 199.3 yards per game on the ground.
While the Hounds have won two of three games, the fast start has come with wins against Division III Sul Ross State (38-35) and Incarnate Word (34-24). Eastern was blown out 42-14 by New Mexico Highlands.
The Hounds are different style of team under Lynn with 153 rush attempts through three games and just 50 pass attempts. Quarterback Wesley Wood is 29-46 for 334 yards and two scores without an interception and is second on the team with 196 rushing yards. Running back De'Coreyon Thomas has 198 and also leads the team with nine receptions for 97 yards.
Wood has been sacked 11 times, meaning Eastern must get somebody - or two - on Tarleton defensive Rufus Johnson after his three sacks last week.
The Texans won 34-28 at ENMU last year after falling to the Hounds in 2010. Tarleton had won the previous five since the teams began playing annually in 2005. ENMU leads the all-time series 13-7.
Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports