By BRAD KEITH
Photos by RUSSELL HUFFMAN
STEPHENVILLE (September 19, 2015) — West Texas A&M scored the final 14 points to defeat Tarleton State 52-38 in the highest scoring game in the five-year history of the Lone Star Football Festival at AT&T Stadium Saturday
Geramy Alridge-Mitchell was a workhorse for the Buffs, delivering 236 yards on 31 carries, including scoring bursts of 55, 29 and 6 yards before halftime in the highest scoring game since 1994 between the longtime rivals, who each opened Lone Star Conference play by combining for exactly 1,000 total yards.
It was 38-38 after three quarters, but West Texas A&M scored on a 53-yard pass from Ethan Brinkley to Xavier Amey less than a minute into the fourth. After a quick three-and-out, Dimitri Donald converted a third down with a 24-yard TD catch from Brinkley, who was 15-22 passing for 256 yards and three scores.
It’s the first WTAMU victory over Tarleton since 2012, and didn’t come without a host of wild twists and turns as the teams combined for 1,000 total yards.
The Buffaloes took advantage of two takeaways in Tarleton territory to lead 28-17 at halftime despite trailing 14-0 early on. Dante Merriweather intercepted a pass and returned it 43 yards to the end zone to give the Buffs their first lead with 4:22 left in the half, and on the next series, Hunter Streuling recovered a fumble and rumbled to the Tarleton six on the return to set up the last scoring run by Alridge-Mitchell.
Tarleton took a turn at scoring on defense in the third quarter when Stephenville product Chase Varnado recovered a fumble and raced 48 yards to the end zone, pulling the Texans within four. The Buffaloes answered with a 52-yard Conner Hollabaugh field goal for a 31-24 advantage before Tarleton tied the game on the second TD run by Jabari Anderson.
The teams traded punches once more before WT took over. The Buffs led 38-31 on a 73-yard pass from Brinkley to Word Hudson, who he found wide open behind the secondary, and Tarleton tied it again on a one-yard run by Zach Henshaw to cap an impressive 10 play, 78-yard drive.
Tarleton led 14-0 early on, when penalties were plaguing West Texas A&M. The Texans scored on an eight-yard strike from Woerner to Cole in the first and a eight-yard run by Anderson in the opening minute of the second. Back-to-back Alridge-Mitchell scoring runs evened the score before a 22-yard field goal by Blake Barnes gave Tarleton a 17-14 advantage midway through the second.
Barnes, a Stephenville product, became the Tarleton leader in career PATs, going 5-for-5 to reach 140 for his career. He broke the record of 136 held by J.W. Boren, also from Stephenville.
West Texas A&M amassed 501 yards of offense, overcoming 18 penalties for 227 yards. Tarleton had 499 yards of total offense, including 36-57 for 327 yards through the air by Woerner and 91 yards on eight carries by Daniel McCants.
Tarleton visits Midwestern State next Saturday. MSU scored in the final 30 seconds to defeat Eastern New Mexico 28-24 in the early game at the festival.
West Texas A&M hosts reigning LSC champ and preseason favorite Angelo State next Saturday. ASU played the late game in the festival against NAIA Bacone.