By BRAD KEITH
The Flash Today.com
WICHITA FALLS (November 4, 2017) — Layton Rabb set a school record for passing yards in a single game for No. 4 Midwestern State (8-0, 7-0), and Xavier Turner achieved an offensive trifecta, scoring touchdowns rushing, passing and receiving for Tarleton State (6-4, 4-3) in a shootout requiring more than four quarters to determine Saturday.
With more than 1,100 combined yards and 12 total touchdowns, offensive highlights thrilled the crowd of 8,111 on Military Appreciation Day during regulation at Wichita Falls ISD Memorial Stadium. But during overtime, it was defense and special teams that kept the Mustangs unbeaten at the end of the wild 45-42 Lone Star Conference affair, assuring them at minimum a share of the LSC championship.
Jerrod Sherrill picked off a pass from Tarleton quarterback Zed Woerner to leave the Texans scoreless on the opening possession of overtime, and Jaron Imbriani kicked a 21-yard field goal to keep the Mustangs undefeated entering the final week of the egular season. They will win the conference titleoutriht with a win at Eastern New Mexico or a Tarleton victory against Texas A&M-Commerce. The Texans begin at 2 p.m. on their Military Apprecation Day, adn the Mustangs kick off at 8 p.m. (CST).
Tarleton was facing 2nd and 15 on its overtime possession because of a penalty followed by a run for no gain. Sherrill was -part of a cluster of bodies over the middle, but Woener went there anyway, his only big mistake on one of the more productive days of his esteemed Tarleton career.
Woerner was 26-40 passing for 378 yards, his second-highest total this season and 11th careerf300-yard passing performance. He owns two school records – passing yards in a game and touchdown passes in a career.
Raab passed for three touchdowns and finished 26-45 or 433 yards, eclipsing the Mustang standard of 429 set by Phillp Boggs in 2002.
Tarleton erased a 14-point deficit over the final nine minutes of regulation. The second rushing touchdown by Turner and an improbable 34-yard scoring catch by Baxter Kirven made it 42-42, the fifth tie of the game.
Turner scored on runs of 14 and 3 yards and turned a swing pass into a 78-yard touchdown in the second half after tossing a 3-yard touchdown to Del’Michael High in the first quarter. He is the first Texan to score all three ways on offense since QB Steve Kelly, who led Tarleton to the national quarterfinals in 2001.
The game-tying pass from Woerner skipped off the hands of intended receiver Cornellius Carrington before Kirven swooped in and made a leaning catch behind the defense about the 10-yard line and trotted untouched into the end zone.
Another defensive stop set up the final Tarleton possession, which almost ended in disaster when Turner lost hold of the ball. Woerner found him open over the middle. He took a couple steps before losing the ball. MSU scooped it up and raced to the end zone.
The replays on the stadium large scoreboard monitor showed steps between the ball arriving and falling to the turf,but Turner had his back to the camera and home crowd, while officials from the other side ruled the pass was juggled and incomplete. Boos rained down from fans who believed – or hoped at least- their team had won the game.
And they did. It just took a little extra work.
MSU amassed 574 yards of offense and Tarleton kept up with a season-best 571. Turner led everyone with a season-best 237 total yards including 145 on the ground, another season high.
Tyrique Edwards had eight catches for 163 yards to lead MSU, while Kirven paced the Tarleton receivers with 92 yards on six grabs.
MSU never trailed, taking a 7-point lead then being tied by Tarleton four times over the first three quarters, a trend the Mustangs finally ended early in the fourth with back-to-back scores on runs of 3 and 25 yards by Vincent Johnson. He had 95 yards on 12 carries and appeared to put MSU in control ahead 42-28 with 9:26 remaining.
But that’s an eternity in such a shootout, and sure enough, Tarleton answered quickly with the final Turner TD, a defensive stop and the unlikely snag by Kirven, which never happens without a fourth-down conversion on a strike from Woerner to Jeff Thomas.
A double-turnover play ended up in the Mustangs favor as they marched in for the early lead. Andrew Blackshire jumped in front of a receiver over the middle for just the third interception this season thrown by Raab, but a big hit by Adrian Seales jarred the bar loose during the return, and MSU recovered. Seales was rewarded four plays later with an easy 1-yard run to the end zone.
Rabb made it 14-7 with a 30-yard pass to D.J. Myers and 21-14 on a 53-yard pass to DeAndre Black. Two first-half scoring drives by MSU were kept alive by three third-down penalties against the Tarleton defense.
Del’Michael High touchdowns on passes from Turner and Woerner kept Tarleton close in the first half, and the long catch-and-run by Turner made it 21-21 early in the third.
The last touchdown pass by Raab was a 24-yard delivery to Tyler Millikan on the ensuing possession, but Tarleton tied it up a fourth time nine minutes later on the third TD involving Turner, his first on the ground.
Tarleton scored 40 or more points for the 30th time in eight total seasons under Whitten and was previously 29-0 in such games.
Photos courtesy Dr. CHET MARTIN