Tarleton Football Spring Game brings tremendous showing by teams, fans alike

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STEPHENVILLE – Although there was no winner in the game itself, everyone surrounding Tarleton Football’s Spring Game left satisfied on Saturday.

The Texans treated their Spring Game like a traditional gameday, opening Texan Alley at 9 a.m., hosting the Pointe-du-Hoc rally in the afternoon, and throwing a fun tailgate pregame. When 6 p.m. hit, fans migrated into Memorial Stadium in bunches, providing one of the strongest crowds at a spring football game the NCAA Division I level will see.

“I’ve been coaching football games here at Tarleton for a good many years, and our fans never surprise me, they’re some of the best in the whole country,” head coach Todd Whitten said. “They always come out, are so supportive, and we’re very thankful for the Stephenville community and the Tarleton community.”

It helped opening up the concession stands with the options for beer and wine sales for the first in Memorial Stadium history, drawing in even more fans from the tailgate, and keeping a light and fun atmosphere throughout the entirety of the contest. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission issued a one-day permit, serving as a trial run to enhance the Texan fan experience.

“Given the great crowd, and there were a lot of former players back, it was great to see them, I think it was just a really, really nice day,” Whitten said. “I hope everybody enjoyed themselves. It’s nice to have some Tarleton Football in the spring. I think that was an excellent idea and we’re only going to improve on this Spring Game. Hopefully next year we’ll be a little more healthy and our numbers will be a little better, and we’ll have more of a traditional game. All the way around, I think it was a good day.”

As for the game on the field, it was “Purple vs. White,” the Purple Team consisting of offense and special teams, the White Team featuring the defense. Tarleton utilized a unique scoring system for the game during four 15-minute quarters on a running clock. The offense scored a point when achieving a first down, crossing the 50-yard line, producing a 15-yard run, completing a 25-yard pass, and successfully making extra-point attempts after touchdowns. The other traditional scores were still the same, with six points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal, two points for a two-point conversion. There were 10 ways for the defense to score. A forced punt, tackle for loss, and pass breakup were each worth one point. A three-and-out forced punt, missed field goal, fourth down stop, sack and two-point conversion stop were each worth two points. Takeaways by interception or fumble recovery and blocked kicks were each worth four points.

The score ended in a 39-39 tie, with the defense getting a point on the last play of the game for a tackle for loss on a run. For the most part, the White Team held the Purple Team in check, allowing just one touchdown on the day, an Alex Thole 13-yard strike to Tate Abel. Purple earned some other chunk points on long runs by Marshawn Buchanan and Mookie Douglas, plus a Mike Irwin deep pass to Gabe Douglas in the third quarter. Adrian Guzman made a field goal to end the first half. On defense, Jalen Carr was credited for several pass breakups. Jaylen Jackson and Devin Sterling also got their mitts on some passes, and the secondary provided strong coverage throughout the day.

“I thought our defense did a really good job of not giving up big plays,” Whitten said. “I thought we had some really nice plays in the secondary breaking up some throws. I thought our backs ran hard on the offensive side.”

Saturday marked the last action of the spring football season at Tarleton. The Texans will their 2022 regular season at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 1 against Mississippi Valley State.

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