COMMERCE – No. 16 Tarleton is alone atop the Lone Star Conference after taking down the defending national champions in No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce on its home turf, 47-21.
Tarleton improves to 6-0 and 5-0 in the LSC – the last remaining undefeated team in the conference. It’s the third 6-0 start in school history and the first since 2007 when the Texan team started 8-0. The win also snaps a six-game losing streak to the Lions (5-2, 3-1).
This is the fourth team in program history to score 40 or more points at least five times in a season and three of those four teams have been under head coach Todd Whitten. The Texans are outscoring opponents 45 to 18 through six games.
The Texans gained 486 yards of offense and held A&M-Commerce to just 360 yards. The running game put up 282 yards alone, led by Xavier Turner who had 166 yards and two touchdowns – his second straight 100-yard rushing effort. The Texans came into the game averaging over 100 yards in penalties a game but cut that down by more than half with only five penalties for 45 yards.
Tarleton only trailed once in the game when it was 7-3 in the first quarter. The lead was quickly back in the Texans’ favor when quarterback Ben Holmes found a wide-open Savon Rollison for a 50-yard touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Rollison had a game-high 78 yards on three catches to go with the score.
Turner scored his first of two touchdowns minutes into the second quarter with a 12-yard rush and a double-digit lead at 17-7.
Tarleton built some momentum heading into halftime when Holmes connected with Zimari Manning in the corner of the end zone on a 13-yard pass for a 24-14 lead at the break.
The second half was all Tarleton as the Texans outscored the Lions 23-7, including 23 straight points to end the game.
Turner opened the fourth quarter with 35 yards during the drive that featured a 19-yard touchdown run to put the game at 33-21. The ensuing kickoff was the nail in the coffin for the Lions as Ron Reid’s kick was fumbled and recovered by the Texans at the Lion 3-yard line. Two plays later, Holmes fired to Manning in the middle of the end zone for Manning’s second touchdown reception of the game and a 40-21 lead.
The opponent once again had no answer for the duo of Holmes and Manning. Holmes threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns while Manning had a game-high eight receptions for 71 yards and two scores.
The final score of the game came on Adam Berryman’s six-yard touchdown run with under four minutes to go. Berryman finished with 56 yards on the ground.
The Texan defense was led by EJ Spped, who had a game-high 13 tackles (12 solo) with two tackles for loss and a sack. Jai Edwards followed with eight tackles, while Gary Moore and Sean Walton each had a sack.
Tarleton will return home for homecoming and take on Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday, October 20 at 6 p.m.