STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton’s E.J. Speed and Xavier Turner have been named two of the top players in the Lone Star Conference after leading the Texans over then-No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce Saturday night.
Speed was named the LSC Defensive Player of the Week Monday afternoon following a career performance against the Lions while Turner was tabbed the league’s Co-Offensive Player of the Week. It is the first career award for Speed and the third for Turner, including his first of the year.
Speed picked one of the biggest games in program history to have a career performance. The senior linebacker set a career high with 15.0 tackles to lead the Texans past No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce 47-21 Saturday night.
His first big stop of the game came on A&M-C’s first drive after pulling within three at 17-14 in the second quarter. Speed came up big with a sack on third-and-six to force a Lion punt. In the third quarter, A&M-C came out of the half and pulled within a field goal. While the Lions were driving with intentions to take a third-quarter lead, Speed came up big with 3.5 tackles on the Lions’ second drive of the quarter including two third down stops. Led by Speed’s career performance, Tarleton handed A&M-C its largest loss since Dec. 13, 2013, and held the Lions to 363 total yards including 131 on the ground. Of A&M-C’s 21 total points for the game, Tarleton’s defense only surrendered 14.
Meanwhile, Turner was the key piece in the Tarleton offense.
Turner gashed the Lion defense to the tune of 166 rushing yards and two touchdowns, leading the Texans with an average of 6.4 yards per carry. Each of Turner’s trips to the end zone proved pivotal in the game as his first score from 12 yards out gave Tarleton a 10-point lead to begin the second quarter. His second touchdown loomed large in the final decision as his 19-yard touchdown in the opening minute of the fourth quarter separated Tarleton from the Lions by two scores and was the first of three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the Texans.
For Tarleton, it was the first game and first win in the program’s NCAA history against the national champion from the previous season. It also propelled Tarleton to its third-largest win streak to begin a season in program history at 6-0. It was also Tarleton’s first win over Texas A&M-Commerce since 2012.
Speed, Turner, and the now-No. 9 Tarleton Texans will be back on display in Stephenville Saturday night at 6 p.m. for the annual homecoming game. Tarleton will welcome Texas A&M-Kingsville to Memorial Stadium.