Texans drop first-ever game in Kentucky against EKU Colonels

TSU Sports Information

RICHMOND, Kentucky – The Tarleton Texans brought energy to the start of their Saturday matchup against Eastern Kentucky, but it was the Colonels who shut it down throughout in their 20-3 win. It marked Tarleton's first ever game in Kentucky, playing this one at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond.

Texans senior wide receiver J.F. Thomas grabs a pass during Saturday's game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.

Eastern Kentucky's defense didn't budge the whole game, shutting out the Texans in the last three quarters. Tarleton scrounged up 237 yards of offense, a season-low. The Texan defense held strong throughout, but it wasn't enough as Tarleton falls to 2-3 (0-1 WAC) on the year. EKU improves to 3-2 (0-1 ASUN).

It was the Texans who struck first after winning the early field position game thanks to a punt block by Prince Umanmielen. Adrian Guzman split the uprights with a 26-yard field goal to boost Tarleton to a 3-0 lead with 3:07 remaining in the first.

Umanmielen

Eastern Kentucky responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a Parker McKinney 30-yard run. It was the lone offensive touchdown in the game for both teams.

The Texans held strong to start the second quarter after facing a goal-to-go situation, forcing the Colonels to actually lose yardage across the three plays and settle for a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-3. To follow, Tarleton put together its best drive of the game, sparked by a Tariq Bitson 53-yard reception from quarterback Steven Duncan on the first play. The Texans had it 1st and Goal from the 5-yard-line, and they went for it on fourth down at the 2-yard-line, to no avail.

The only action on the scoreboard in the third quarter was an EKU 48-yard field goal by Patrick Nations. Down 13-3, Tarleton defensive back Devin Hafford recorded his WAC-leading (tied) third interception of the year to give the Texans some hope at a potential fourth quarter comeback.

Tarleton began its drive at the EKU 30-yard-line, but the Colonels held steadfast and TSU was unable to capitalize on its field goal attempt. EKU's Eli Hairston had a pick-6 with a 39-yard return on Tarleton's next offensive possession to essentially end the chance of a road victory for Tarleton.

D.J. Harris, Zach Strong and Markel Clark each recorded eight tackles to lead the purple and white. Tre Johnson was credited with four pass breakups, and Corban James had 1.5 tackles for a loss. Bitson led the receiving group with three catches for 66 yards. Jayy McDonald paced the running game with 57 yards on 13 carries. Duncan finished 12-of-26 for 129 yards and two interceptions.

Da'Joun Hewitt had the best offensive game for the Colonels with 119 yards on 26 carries. McKinney had the touchdown, plus 67 yards on 10 carries, to go with 157 yards on 12-of-27 passing, and an interception.

The Texans will regroup with a bye week on the upcoming stretch. Their next game will be at Dixie State in St. George, Utah, on Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. CT. It will be Tarleton's first conference game since the season-opener at Stephen F. Austin.