STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton Football led from start to finish in a 33-21 homecoming victory over rival Midwestern State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
With the win, Tarleton became the winningest scholarship NCAA program (Division I, II) in the state of Texas since 2018, breaking a tie with Texas A&M and giving the Texans its 27th win with two games left in the schedule.
The Texan offense accounted for 414 yards and 27 first-half points to cruise past the visiting Mustangs. Tarleton’s defense also limited Midwestern State to just 191 yards of offense and under 100 rushing and 100 passing yards.
Tarleton (4-2) scored early and often in the opening quarter as quarterback Steven Duncan had another terrific performance for the Texans. Duncan marched the offense downfield on the opening drive and found Tariq Bitson for a 10-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first points.
After a Midwestern State fumble that was recovered by Jordan Wells, the Texans were once again inside the red zone, where they went 4-4 on scoring inside the 20, and Khalil Banks put Tarleton up 13-0 on a 9-yard rush in the first quarter. Banks ran for a season-high 135 yards on 21 carries, his second career 100-yard rushing game.
The Mustangs countered with a 92-yard kickoff return, but it didn’t faze the Texans as Duncan and the offense capped off a nine-play, 64-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Douglas. The score put Tarleton up 20-7 after the first quarter.
Duncan would throw his third touchdown pass of the first half, a 40-yard catch-and-run by Bitson, to send the Texans to the locker room up 27-14. Duncan finished the game 20-28 for 183 yards, 3 touchdowns and no turnovers. In his last two games, Duncan has thrown for 530 yards on 43-61 (70.4%), 7 touchdowns and no turnovers. A game after a 200-yard performance, Bitson hauled in 83 yards on six catches and two touchdowns.
After a scoreless third quarter for Tarleton, Midwestern State closed to within 27-21, but the Texans answered with a 9-play, 58-yard drive that took off 4:40 late in the game and put the finishing touches on a homecoming win on Ryheem Skinner’s 4-yard touchdown run for the game’s final points. Skinner ran for 102 yards, the third time in four games he’s topped 100 this season.
Ronnell Wilson and DJ Harris led the Texan defense that only allowed two scores in the game with six tackles each while Wilson added a pair of tackles for loss. Zech Hopkins also had five solo tackles. Zach Strong, a freshman from Brownwood, added 1.5 sacks to lead the team.
Tarleton will remain home next week as the Texans host Northeastern State on Saturday, March 27 at 6 p.m. in Memorial Stadium.
Photos by Russell Huffman