Texans lose first game of the season, bounce back and win second one

By: Thomas Winzeler

Managing Editor

The Tarleton State University Texans have officially kicked off their spring 2021 football season. This season marks the Texan’s first season as a Division I (DI) Football Championship Subdivision level team.

McNeese and Tarleton lined up before McNeese QB Cody Orgeron hikes the ball and the play begins.
Photo by Thomas Winzeler.

The Texans started their season off with a 40 to 37 loss at home to the McNeese State Cowboys on Feb. 13. The game ended with a walk-off touchdown by McNeese State Quarterback Cody Orgeron in double overtime.

In the following game against the New Mexico State Aggies on Feb. 20, the Texans played as if they took the loss to McNeese personally. The Texans proceeded to beat the Aggies 43 to 17.

In the game against McNeese State, the Texans trailed the Cowboys 10-0 with five minutes and 18 seconds left in the first quarter. With the ball on their own 46-yard line, the Texans proceeded to drive down the field to the McNeese 21-yard line only for the drive to stall out. Kicker Adrian Guzman would then go on to kick a 38-yard field goal. The kick sailed through the uprights giving the Texans three points and also marking the Texan’s first ever points as a DI program.

Quarterback Steven Duncan set up the field goal by connecting with Wide Receiver Tariq Bitson two times during the drive. The first pass being completed for a five-yard gain and the second pass being completed for a 28-yard gain. The Texan’s defense would end the first quarter with a fourth down stop on the Texan’s own 10-yard line. This stop would light a spark as the Texan’s defense prevented McNeese from scoring any points in the second quarter.

At the end of the half, freshman running back Braelon Bridges and senior running back Ryheem Skinner carried the Texan’s offense down the field during a 15 play, 73-yard drive. The drive ended with Skinner scoring a touchdown on a 4-yard run. The point after tied the score at ten to ten with only 59 seconds remaining.

The third quarter would go on to be the Texan’s best quarter, as the offense scored two touchdowns and the defense would hold McNeese scoreless. McNeese wouldn’t go down without a fight though. McNeese obtained possession of the ball with four minutes and eight seconds in the game after Tarleton’s offense stalled out and was forced to punt. Orgeron led McNeese down the field for a touchdown during the five-play, 65-yard drive. With two minutes and 46 seconds left in the game, McNeese recovered the ball from an on-side kick. McNeese took advantage of the Tarleton defense scored a touchdown to tie the game with only 35 seconds left.

The game would go into double overtime and end with a walk-off touchdown that would seal the game for McNeese. After the game, Head Coach Todd Whitten said he contributes the loss to some critical mistakes made late in the game. He did give credit to McNeese State for how they battled back. Whitten and the team are looking to learn from this game as they move forward with the season.

In their second game as a DI school, Tarleton absolutely destroyed the New Mexico State Aggies, racking up an impressive 909 total yards on offense.

Whitten’s message for the team this season has been “Next Man Up!”

The team has embraced the message as five of the offensive starters were ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols for the New Mexico State game including Duncan. In the first game against McNeese State, he threw for a total of 217 yards, with one touchdown. He completed 22 passes out of 39 attempts. With Duncan out Senior Cameron Burston was thrust into the starting position. Throwing for a total of 252 yards and completing 15 passes out of the 29 attempts. Throwing for two touchdowns Burston stepped up and showed that he is capable of being a starter.

The Texan’s offense has also leaned on an effective rushing attack. Skinner leads the team in rushing yards with a total of 120 yards. Combined the offense has a total of 465 rushing yards. Junior Gabe Douglas leads the team in receiving with a total of 215 yards.

The defense has been led by Chadwick Thibodeaux who leads the team with a total of 18 tackles, a majority of them coming from assists. Thibodeaux looks to be the leader on the defensive side of the ball.

The Texans are hoping to carry the momentum from the New Mexico State game over to the next game against Dixie State. The game will be played this Saturday, Feb. 27 at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, Texas. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPN+, you can also listen to the game on KTRL 90.5 FM in Stephenville.

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