Missed opportunities, turnovers cost Tarleton at Abilene Christian

TSU Sports Information

ABILENE —  Looking at the scoreboard, you wouldn't think it was much of a contest between Tarleton and Abilene Christian on Saturday, but the scoring difference doesn't paint the whole picture.

Tarleton running back Derrel Kelley tries to dodge an Abilene Christian defender during Saturday's game at Tarleton Memorial Stadium.

The Texans outgained the Wildcats in total yardage and had three separate trips inside the five-yard line, but lost the rivalry matchup in Abilene, Texas, 29-3. Tarleton falls to 5-5 on the season and finishes with a 2-3 conference record in its first season in the WAC, with one game left against Central Arkansas. ACU improves to 5-5, 3-1 in WAC play.

Missed opportunities plagued the team from Stephenville all afternoon, with just three points coming from three trips to the five. The Texans also had six turnovers, due to four fumbles out of six total on the day and two interceptions. That led to a 38:29 to 21:31 difference in time of possession, advantage ACU.

Still, the Texans stayed in the game throughout, leading 3-0 midway through the first, tied 3-3 at the end of one, and down 13-3 entering the fourth quarter.

On their first defensive chance of the day, the Texans set the tone with five of six plays forcing ACU to one or fewer yards. Defensive back Jalen Carr, playing his first game since Sept. 18, made a great solo tackle that would foreshadow a strong performance the remainder of the contest.

The Texans drove right down the field on their first possession, with a 37-yard chunk play from Steven Duncan to Derrel Kelley III getting them across midfield. Ryheem Skinner busted out a 20-yard run to the ACU five-yard line for a first and goal. They were forced to kick a field goal from there, which Adrian Guzman split the uprights on from 27 yards out.

Guzman

Tarleton stopped the Wildcats once again on their second possession before making their first mistake, a muffed Kaylon Horton punt that ACU recovered at the Texans' 22-yard line. The defense held firm though, forcing a 41-yard field goal from Blair Zepeda.

Just two plays into their next drive, the Texans fumbled again, this time Tariq Bitson around midfield which the Wildcats recovered. This led to three more points for ACU, a 53-yard field goal this time around by Zepeda.

Not much happened for Tarleton on the next possession except for a rare short punt that gave the Wildcats the ball at TSU's 30-yard line. That led to the first touchdown of the day, a Peyton Mansell 26-yard pass to Kobe Clark to make it 13-3.

The teams traded possessions a few times before Carr intercepted Mansell with under a minute remaining to give Tarleton the ball at the ACU four-yard line. Duncan was intercepted by Greg Green on second and goal in the end zone to end the threat.

To start the third quarter, Tarleton punter Jake Walrath boomed a 74-yarder. ACU missed a field goal on its ensuing possession, which TSU turned into a 68-yard drive. Unfortunately, the Texans needed a 69-yard drive, as Duncan fumbled at the one-yard line on third and goal, recovered by ACU. That turned into another Wildcat field goal, this one from 28 yards out to make it 16-3 in the fourth quarter.

Mansell rushed a one-yard touchdown in midway through the fourth. ACU scored again following a Mike Irwin fumble loss on a Davion Johnson 19-yard rush, and turned over Irwin again through the air to cap off a 29-3 ACU win.

Skinner had the best day individually for Tarleton's offense by leading the rushing attack with 72 yards on 12 carries, 6.0 yards per rush. Duncan finished 9-of-20 for 134 yards, which included a 53-yard play to Horton. He was the leading receiver.

Devin Hafford led the Texan defense with 14 tackles (five solo). Carr had his interception to go with seven tackles (four solo).

Carr

ACU's Mansell went 21-of-27 for 161 yards, a passing touchdown, a rushing touchdown and a pick. Tyrese White had 71 rushing yards. Clark had 11 catches for 81 yards and a score.

Six different Wildcats earned a takeaway, with Elijah Moffett forcing two fumbles and recording an interception.

The Texans will end their 2021-22 campaign at home on Saturday, Nov. 13, against Central Arkansas at 6 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium.