MANKATO, Minn. – In a battle of Super Region 4’s top two football programs, Tarleton showcased its dominance in the first half before the ultimate home-field advantage helped Minnesota State complete a second-half comeback and end the Texans’ season 13-10 in the regional finals.
Led by a large senior class, the Texans end the season with a record of 12-1, which sets a new program record for wins in a single season. This team also set a new program standard for rushing by becoming the first team in program history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a single season and have the first pair of 1,000-yard rushing teammates (Xavier Turner and Daniel McCants).
Tarleton took the opening kickoff and marched 63 yards on nine plays to take a 3-0 lead on a 29-yard field goal by Joanly Martinez. The Texans scored their lone touchdown of the game in the second quarter when Zimari Manning broke free and took a Ben Holmes pass 67 yards to paydirt for a 10-0 lead.
The Texan defense, which showcased its dominance by holding the Mavericks to a season-low 13 points, held Minnesota State scoreless over the opening three-quarters of the game. Minnesota State struck for its first score on the second play of the fourth quarter to pull within three at 10-7.
After the teams traded punts over the next four possession, Minnesota State scored against on a 13-yard run in a seven-play, 76-yard drive that was aided by a personal foul penalty that set the Mavericks up on the 13. The Mavericks went for two and failed. Tarleton drove the ensuing possession down to the Maverick 45-yard line before failing to convert on fourth-and-three with 39 seconds left in the game.
Tarleton rushed for 169 yards as a team, led by Xavier Turner’s 78 yards on 22 carries. Ben Holmes rushed six times for 76 yards while Daniel McCants accounted for 17 on five carries. Holmes threw for 198 yards and a touchdown with Manning catching five passes for 140 yards and Tarleton’s only touchdown.
Defensively, E.J. Speed ended his Tarleton career with a team-high 17 tackles, including 0.5 for a loss, and an interception He went over 100 tackles for the season, becoming the third Texan in the last three seasons to eclipse the century mark in stops. Ed Hayes also cracked double-digits with 10 stops and recovered a fumble.
In addition to the new single-season rushing record (4,031), Tarleton set new single-season records for rushing attempts (690), total offensive plays (977), total offense (6,709), first downs (301), touchdowns (79), and points scored (585).