By BRAD KEITH
WICHITA FALLS (September 26, 2015) — Tarleton (0-3, 0-2) surrendered more yards of offense than ever before and played in the third highest scoring game in its history Saturday, falling to unbeaten and 23rd ranked Midwestern State (3-0, 2-0), 63-46, at Memorial Stadium.
After splitting time with Brandon Coward and even watching Coward lead the game-winning touchdown drive in the Lone Star Football Festival a week prior, sophomore quarterback Hagan Hutchinson accounted for six total touchdowns – three passing and three rushing – and 321 total yards. He directed the offense until Midwestern led 42-17 early in the third quarter.
Midwestern amassed 358 passing yards to 10 different players including seven catches for 105 yards and a score by Ryan Hyman. Five different Mustangs rushed for at least 50 yards, led by Reggie Gipson with 81 yards on eight carries. Hutchinson rushed for 69 yards and Vincent Johnson gained 66 yards and scored twice on just four carries.
It’s not as if Tarleton didn’t have highlights, particularly while gaining 503 total yards offensively in the third highest combined scoring game in school history and the highest scoring Division II game nationwide on Saturday.
Daniel McCants rushed for 83 yards and had 37 yards receiving while also racking up 214 yards on seven kick returns. The running back, who entered the game eighth in the nation with 195 all-purpose yards per game, finished with 334 all-purpose yards Saturday.
Le’Nard Meyers is now alone in third in Tarleton history with eigh 100-yard receiving games. The senior grabbed nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Cooper Cole, replacing the injured Bubba Tandy, made eight receptions for 76 yards.
Hutchinson accounted for all four touchdowns during a 28-0 run that provided Midwestern a 28-7 cushion at halftime. He followed lead blockers on a quarterback power play to turn a pair of third downs into touchdowns covering 4 and 2 yards, and fired TD passes of 6 yards to to Derek Lockhart and 35 yards to Hyman.
Tarleton appeared to have life early in the third. Stephenville product Brayden Coverdale blocked a punt that rolled 30 yards into the end zone where it was covered up by Kason Fornes for a Tarleton touchdown.
That touchdown came just 62 seconds after a 44-yard field goal by Blake Barnes to open the second half scoring. It was 28-17 less than three mites into the new half.
But exactly one minute after Fornes scored, Hutchinson fired his third TD strike, a 30-yard dart to wide open Tyrique Edwards on a play action pass to make it 35-17 at the 11:35 mark.
Tarleton fumbled the ensuing kickoff return and Hutchinson plunged in from two yard out with his third rushing TD at the 10:44 mark of the third, making it 42-24 and giving the rivals 24 combined points in the first 4:16 of the second half and putting Midwestern firmly back in control.
Johnson scored on a one-yard run with 4:03 left in the period before Tarleton found the end zone again on a 19-yard strike from Woerner to McCants, who scored the first receiving touchdown of his college career.
There were a combined 38 points in the third, which ended with Midwestern cruising, 49-24.
There were another 36 points added in the fourth, as Tarleton outscored MSU 39-35 in the second half. Tarleton never got closer than 17 points behind, first at 49-32 with 13:16 remaining and then on the final touchdown in the last minute.
Meyers scored on a 7-yard pass from Woerner and McCants added the two-point conversion early in the fourth, but Midwestern, with Quade Coward taking over as trigger puller, scored on a 56-yard pass to Arsenio Phillips and a 57-yard run by Johnson to lead 63-32 with 6:02 left.
Woerner tossed a 28-yard TD to Dominique Martin and reserve QB Alex Craig hit Michell Leonard with a four-yard scoring strike to close out Tarleton’s scoring.
The Texans are 0-3 for the first time since their first season under Fowler in 2010, when they started 0-5. They host Texas A&M-Commerce at 7 p.m. next Saturday, capping off Family Weekend at Tarleton.
Photos by JESSIE HORTON and MAIRA SANCHEZ