By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (September 9, 2017) — Zed Woerner passed for three touchdowns, Adam Berryman rushed for 143 yards and two scores and Tarleton State (1-1) scored on a fumble return and a kickoff return in a 48-20 win over Oklahoma Panhandle State (1-1) at Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
Tarleton endured a second slow start in as many weeks to begin the season, but this time the Texans overcame early miscues and appeared to answer a number of concerning questions before Lone Star Conference play begins next Saturday at Angelo State.
Questions like, Who will establish himself as the team’s primary quarterback, running back, punt returner and kick returner?
Zed Weorner may finally have earned some job security as the starting quarterback at Tarleton. Kiser started the game, but passed for negative 6 yards and failed to direct the offense past midfield in the first half, while Weorner led two scoring drives, including a touchdown on a well executed 46-yard play-action pass to Del’Michael High.
Woerner was also at the controls when Tarleton scored on a 15-yard run by Berryman, who averaged 13 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Like Woerner, Berryman alternated series in the first half before carrying the lion’s share of running back duties in he second half.
Touchdowns were the result on one-third of Woerners passes as he was 7-9 passing for 143 yards. His other scoring strikes – a 13-yard slant to Savon Rollison and a 35-yard fade to Jeff Thomas – helped the Texans outscore OPSU 35-6 in the second half.
It was actually 41-6 beginning with his first TD pass that brought Tarleton within one – Sergio Sroka missed the PAT, a rarity – in the second quarter.
The Texans trailed 14-13 at intermission, but needed only seven plays from scrimmage to take the lead for good in the third quarter. And that was with OPSU receiving the second half kickoff.
Duane Scott scrambled for a firs down on the opening snap, but on third and one moments later, Michael Knobloch came on a middle linebacker blitz and buried Preston Baker for a loss of two.
High, who appears to have earned punt return duties with a 21 yard average, took this one back 23 yards to the 41. It took Berryman just two plays to do the rest, going for 15 yards, then looking smooth with one quick cut and a vertical burst throughout the heart of the Aggie defense for a 44 yard TD. It was 20- 14 as Sroka returned to form on the PAT, and Talreton was off to the races.
Perhaps Woerner’s most artistic delivery was a 16-yard corner fade pass to Rollsion to pick up a first down at the OPSU 16 two plays before they hooked up on a TD for a 27-14 advantage.
The defense kept getting stops and the offense scored on a third straight possession with Woerner hitting Thomas. That was followed by a 40-yard fumble return for a TD by Will Johnson, and when OPSU did finally get on the board again, Daniel McCants took the ensuing kick back 89 yards to the house.
“I think we made some big plays tonight and those big plays were the biggest difference in the game,” said Whitten. “I’m rod of our team anytime we win, but if we’re going to win consistently, there are a lot of things we have to get corrected. W have a long way to go to get where we want to be, but tonight was a good start.”
OPSU had 87 offensive plays and Tarleton just 44. Of course, no snaps were needed for the Texans to score on a fumble return or on a kickoff return. The Texans also had a pair of two-play scoring drives.
Scoring on defense and special teams plays covering a combined 129 yards also left the Texans on the short end in total offense with 373 yards and the Aggies 399.
Basil Jackson led Tarleton with 15 tackles, Andrew Blackshire had 13 and Michael Knobloch 11, career highs for all three.
With 77 yards on two receptions and 63 on three punt returns, High finished with 138 all-purpose yards on five touches for Tarleton. His punt returns were another reason the Texans didn’t generate more yards offensively.
The Aggies came out in a west coast look, and tried to get into hurry up mode when possible. This just a week after employing a methodical approach with 55 rush attempts and only 13 passes in a 10-0 victory over McMurry.
“They have wise coaches over there and I’m sure they knew they were going to struggle to run the ball as effectively against us as last week, so they changed it up some,” Whitten expained. “We made some adjustments at halftime, and I thought overall our defense played much better in the second half.”
Scott was 24-35 passing for 185 yards and a TD for OPSU. John Polston was 8-12 for 94 yards after taking over in the second half. Te Aggies rushed for just 99 yards, averaging only 2.5 on 39 attempts.
OPSU, which hosts Bacone College (Okla.) took a 14-6 lead on a 16-yard pass from Scott to Brady Barrett four minutes into the second quarter. They led 7-0 following a 12-play, 82 yard drive capped off by Baker’s three-yard TD run.
It’s the fourth time Tarleton has defeated OPSU the past three seasons, though they aren’t likely to meet as often since the Aggies have left the LSC and NCAA Division II and retuned to the Central States Football League of the NAIA.
For complete box score, play-by-play and more from Tarleton Athletic Communications, CLICK HERE.