STEPHENVILLE – No. 24 Tarleton recorded its 500th victory in program history with a 38-0 shutout over Northeastern State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
It was the first shutout for Tarleton (5-2) since 2018, when the Texans held No. 24 Azusa Pacific scoreless in a 58-0 rout in the first round of the NCAA Playoffs.
The 1994 Texan Football team was this year’s recipient of the Legend’s Game and the squad was honored at halftime for being the first NCAA team in program history. Tarleton’s defense on Saturday made a case for legendary status themselves, holding the Riverhawks to a season-low 153 yards in the win. Of those 153 yards, 76 came on one play during the Riverhawks’ opening drive. Tarleton held Northeastern State to just 77 yards of offense the rest of the game.
Tarleton got on the board midway through the first quarter on a 59-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kaylon Horton. It was the second special teams touchdown of the season for the sophomore from Houston, who ran a 93-yard kickoff back for a score against Dixie State on Feb. 27.
The Texans scored twice more in the first half, a four-yard touchdown run by Ryheem Skinner and a 40-yard field goal from Christian Hernandez to lead 17-0 at halftime. Skinner added a 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter for a 24-0 lead. Skinner finished the game with a game-high 118 total yards and two scores, giving him a team-leading six touchdowns on the season. The Texan offense put up 381 yards on the night, including 199 yards on the ground
In the fourth quarter, the Texans added a pair of touchdowns for good measure. The first came on the opening drive when quarterback Steven Duncan connected with Tariq Bitson in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown. Bitson had 53 yards on eight catches in the game. Duncan’s top target was Gabe Douglas, who caught five passes for 84 yards.
Freshman running back Derrel Kelley III scored his first career touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run, as the St. Petersburg, Florida native finished with 56 yards on just five carries that was highlighted by a 50-yard run.
Senior linebacker Ronnell Wilson continued to lead the Texan defense as the all-American recorded a team-high eight tackles and had a leaping interception at midfield on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. The interception set up Duncan’s touchdown pass to Bitson for a 31-0 lead.
The Texans had a season-high 10 tackles for loss, led by ChadWick Thibodeaux and Jordan Wells each with two, as Wells also recorded the only Texan sack of the game. Eight different Texans had at least one tackle for loss.
Tarleton will close out the 2021 spring season at home on Thursday, April 1 with a 6 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Stadium. The season finale will be Military Appreciation and fans will receive a special edition schedule poster at the game for the 2021 fall season before it’s released to the public the next day.