By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (October 28, 2017) — Xavier Turner rushed for three touchdowns to lead Tarleon State (6-3) to a 28-6 homecoming win over Western Oregon (2-7) at Memorial Stadium Saturday evening.
Talreton lost quarterback Zed Woerner to an undisclosed injury in the second quarter, and backup Derek Kiser, who actually began the season as the starter, was 19-30 passing for 198 yards.
The Texans rushed for 129 yards and had 354 total yards while limiting Western Oregeon to just 64 yards on the ground and 299 total yards. The Wolves entered the game averaging 33.3 points, 113.5 rushing yards and 380.9 total yards.
“I thought our defense played great,” said Tarleton head coach Todd Whitten. “I’m proud for all of our kids to know we’ll have a winning record even though it’s been an up and down season.
Woerner delivered the only touchdown pass, a 19-yard strike to Del’Michael High, almost six minutes into the game, and Tarleton went on to lead wire-to-wire. Turner did the rest of the scoring for the Texans on runs of four and one yards out of the wildcat and 13 yards from the more typical pistol set. He had just 60 yards on the ground, but it’s his second game rushing for three TDs, the last coming in a 30-20 victory over West Texas A&M when he ran for 111 and all three scores in the second quarter alone.
Tarleton could do nothing with the opening possession of the second half, and the worst punt of the season by Ron Reid, a 13-yard shank into the Western Oregon bench, put the Wolves in business at the Texan 36. Caleb Tingstad scored the only Western Oregon points nine plays later, plunging across the goal line from a yard out.
Moments later, Kiser was staring at third-down and 16 and it looked as if Western Oregon had stolen all the momentum and was about to get the ball in good field position again. But fresh back from injury, speedy slot receiver Savon Rollison had other plans. Rollison created space on a seam route, snagged a spot-on delivery from the junior quarterback, then kicked his feet up and out of one attempted tackle while shoving himself away from another before escaping down the sideline. Defenders had angles to run him down at about the 30 at the other end, but he juked back inside and finally wrestled with the last man to beat until going down at the 5 with an 80-yard gain.
The shortest of Turner’s scoring carries came two plays later, and the PAT finished the scoring.
“(Kiser and Turner) are great players and just great Tarleton Texans, and I’m so proud of them for making the big plays when we needed them,” Whitten said.
Tarleton pinned its ears back and kept pressure on Western Oregon quarterback the rest of the way, finishing with a season high five sacks including two for the second straight week by Basil Jackson, who had three additional tackles for loss amount his 12 tackles. Sophomore cornerback Devin Hafford made 11 tackles and had five pass breakups along with a forced fumble.
“Our defense did a really good job of pressuring their quarterback,” said Whitten. “You’ve seen the difference it’s made for us when we’ve been able to keep the pressure off our quarterbacks, and tonight we were the ones applying that pressure.”
The one-game hiatus for Tarleton from Lone Star Conference play comes before the most difficult closing stretch of any team in the LSC. The Texans visit first-place and No. 5 ranked Midwestern State at 2 p.m. next Saturday then conclude the regular season with another 2 p.m. matinee against second-place and No. 9 Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday, November 11, in Stephenville.
“What I’m the most proud of is we’re playing our best football and we’re getting ready to go into week 10,” Whitten said. “That’s really what you want to see is your team getting better all year and then to play its best football when you get to the end of it.”