STEPHENVILLE – No. 4 Tarleton is alone atop the Lone Star Conference after taking down No. 23 Angelo State 30-13 in a battle of undefeated rivals at Memorial Stadium.
Both teams entered the game 4-0 and were ranked in the top 10 in scoring offense with over 45 points per game. However, it was the Texan defense – which came in ranked seventh in the nation in total defense – that held the high-powered Angelo State offense to only one touchdown.
Tarleton, the nation’s top offense, put up over 420 yards for the fifth straight game and held the Rams, who came in averaging over 450 yards a game, to only 349 yards. The win extended several winning streaks for the Texans, including the nation’s longest home winning streak to 11 games. It’s also the 15th straight regular season win for Tarleton dating back to 2018.
Daniel McCants once again sparked the Texan offense in a hurry to start the game. The senior running back bolted up the middle on the game’s first drive for a 48-yard touchdown run. McCants, who entered the game tops in the nation in yards per carry at 9.8, ran for a game-high 158 yards on 23 carries. McCants has ran for over 100 yards in all four games he’s played in.
After a 7-0 first-quarter lead, the Texans added a second touchdown of the half on a 21-yard strike to DeShun Qualls for a 13-0 lead. Qualls, who celebrated his birthday the day before, had a season-high five catches for 54 yards and a score.
Angelo State managed a pair of field goals late in the second quarter, sending the Texans to the locker room up 13-6.
The Texan defense came up big in the third quarter when the offense was struggling by forcing two Angelo State turnovers. After a Texan turnover of their own, the Rams were deep in the Texan redzone when Ronnell Wilson intercepted Payne Sullins’ pass at the one-yard line to preserve a 13-6 lead. Wilson finished with six tackles and one for a loss to go with the pick.
Later in the third quarter with the same score, B.J. Jefferson sacked Sullins and forced a fumble at midfield that was recovered by Tank Morgan. The fumble recovery led to a 23-yard field goal by Christian Hernandez for a 16-6 advantage. Jefferson, who has already won LSC Defensive Player of the Week this season, finished with a game-high 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a forced fumble. Jai Edwards (11) and ChadWick Thibodeaux (10) joined Jefferson with double-digit tackles.
The Texan offense rewarded the defense late in the third quarter. Facing a 4th-and-4, Holmes connected with Zimari Manning for a 21-yard touchdown that gave the Texans some breathing room heading into the fourth quarter with a 23-6 lead. Manning led all players with eight receptions for 78 yards and a score.
In the fourth quarter, Khalil Banks helped chew up the clock with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that resulted in a 4-yard TD run. The LSC rushing touchdown leader with eight scores finished the game with 97 yards on 17 carries.
Tarleton remains ranked the No. 4 team in the nation by the American Football Coaches Association but continues to gain ground in the voting process with three more votes than last week.
The Texans received 708 votes and one vote for first place – up from the 705 votes last week. Valdosta State, the defending national champions, are No. 1 with 797 votes and 30 first place nods. Ferris State (2) is at 761 votes and a first, while Minnesota State is third with 733 votes.
The Texans, who improved to 5-0 on the year, have been ranked 15 straight weeks in the AFCA poll, including 12 consecutive weeks in the top 10 and six straight in the top 5 – the longest stretches in program history.
Tarleton is one of two Lone Star Conference teams ranked in the AFCA poll, with Texas A&M-Commerce ranked No. 20 with a 3-1 record. Angelo State, who the Texans defeated 30-13 last Saturday when they were ranked No. 23, dropped out of the poll but are receiving the most votes on a non-ranked team at 44. West Texas A&M also received eight votes and Tarleton’s next opponent Eastern New Mexico received two votes.
Last Saturday’s victory over Angelo State marked the 15th straight regular season win for the Texans and 11th consecutive home win, the longest streak in the nation for NCAA Division II. The Texans have also won 11 straight conference games.
The Texans will travel to Portales, New Mexico to take on Eastern New Mexico on Saturday, October 12 at 7 p.m. CST.
2019 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll – October 7, 2019
Rank School (1st votes) Rec. Pts. Prev.
1. Valdosta St. (Ga.) (30) 5-0 797 1
2. Ferris St. (Mich.) (1) 5-0 761 2
3. Minnesota St. 5-0 733 3
4. Tarleton (1) 5-0 708 4
5t. Notre Dame (Ohio) 5-0 633 5
5t. Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) 5-0 633 6
7. Northwest Missouri St. 5-0 610 7
8. Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) 5-0 587 8
9. Slippery Rock (Pa.) 5-0 524 10
10. Indianapolis (Ind.) 5-0 523 11
11. Colorado School of Mines 5-0 486 13
12. West Chester (Pa.) 5-0 411 14
13. Pittsburg St. (Kan.) 5-0 406 15
14. Wingate (N.C.) 5-0 362 16
15. Central Missouri 5-0 352 17
16. Indiana (Pa.) 5-0 288 19
17. Colorado St.-Pueblo 4-1 262 18
18. Bowie St. (Md.) 5-0 236 20
19. Grand Valley St. (Mich.) 4-1 211 9
20. Texas A&M-Commerce 3-1 174 21
21. Kutztown (Pa.) 5-0 161 24
22. Harding (Ark.) 4-1 158 22
23. Minnesota-Duluth 4-1 127 12
24. Truman St. (Mo.) 5-0 101 NR
25. West Florida 4-1 53 NR