Tarleton takes perfect record on road against defending national champions


Tarleton will head to Commerce for a historic showdown with major conference title implications on the line Saturday afternoon as the No. 16 Texans visit the defending NCAA Division II National Champions, the No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce Lions, at 4 p.m. in a battle of the top two teams in the Lone Star Conference standings. This game will be the first time in Tarleton’s NCAA history that the Texans have squared off with the defending national champions from the previous year.

A complete broadcast of the game can be heard on the Tarleton Sports Network presented by the North Texas Ford Dealers. The Tarleton Sports Network team of Byron Anderson, Kyle Masters, Savion Washington, and J.P. Stingley have the call on the flagship station of Tarleton Athletics – KTRL 90.5 FM in Stephenville – and worldwide at TarletonSports.com/ListenLive. Links to live stats and a video stream of the game can be found on the Tarleton Football schedule, the Game Day preview story, and on the @TarletonSports social media channels. The live stats and video are hosted by the home team. The video stream is pay-per-view at Texas A&M-Commerce.


Tickets are available online at WeAreLionsTix.com or by calling the Commerce Athletic Ticket Office at (903) 886-5558. Tickets range in price from $20 to $6. Tarleton students with a valid ID will receive free admission at the East Gate for the game. All Tarleton students will receive free admission at the East Gate of Commerce Memorial Stadium with a valid student ID.

Tarleton is back in the national top 25 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and the D2Football.com Media Poll. Tarleton took over the AFCA No. 25 spot three weeks ago and has climbed nine spots over the last two weeks into the No. 16 spot heading into Saturday’s game. Tarleton started receiving national votes in the poll after defeating Delta State 44-13 in the season opener and finally received enough to crack the rankings following a 35-13 thumping of UT Permian Basin in Stephenville. This marks the fifth different season that Tarleton has been ranked under head coach Todd Whitten. The ninth-year leader of the Texans led Tarleton to its first national ranking in 2001 and took them as high as No. 6 in the nation during the 2002 season. This is the 88th week in Tarleton’s NCAA history the Texans have been ranked. Tarleton is also ranked No. 16 in the nation by D2Football.com.

Tarleton is off to one of its best starts in program history at 5-0. With a 48-28 win over Eastern New Mexico last weekend, the Texans improved to 5-0 for the first time since 2013 and the first time ever under the leadership of head coach Todd Whitten. Tarleton comes into the game boasting one of the nation’s best rushing offenses at 283.4 yards per game, which is good for No. 7 in the nation. Daniel McCants leads the ground attack with 597 yards while Xavier Turner (256), D’Anthony Hopkins (237), Ben Holmes (187), and Adam Berryman (124) also have over 100 grounds on the ground this season. Holmes also leads the air attack with 1,168 yards passing and 11 touchdowns. Zimari Manning leads the receiving corps with 435 yards on 18 catches and six touchdowns. Defensively, Ronnell Wilson and Jai Edwards lead the team with 35 tackles while Chris Radford (7.5), EJ Speed (6.0), Gary Moore (5.5), and Jordan Phillips (4.5) lead the way for the Texan defense which leads the nation in tackles for a loss this season.

Texas A&M-Commerce is 5-1 on the season, including 3-0 in Lone Star Conference play, and are the defending national champions of NCAA Division II. Commerce is averaging 31.0 points per game on offense and holding opponents to 18.7 points on defense. Carandal Hale leads the ground attack with 303 rushing yards and three touchdowns while the quarterback carousel of Preston Wheeler and Kane Wilson are tasked in replacing last year’s Harlon Hill award winner, Luis Perez. Wheeler has thrown for 679 yards and five scores while Wilson has tossed 719 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, Brucks Saathoff leads the team with 61 tackles while Michael Onuoha has made 11.0 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.

Saturday will be the 27th all-time meeting between Tarleton and Texas A&M-Commerce, formerly East Texas State, dating back to 1970. The Lions hold a 15-11 edge in the all-time series. Tarleton won all 11 of its victories against Commerce over a 12-game span from 1997 to 2012.

Tarleton will be back in Memorial Stadium in Stephenville for the annual homecoming game on Saturday, October 20. The Texans will play host to Texas A&M-Kingsville at 6 p.m.

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