Allen-to-Smith connection strong in Tarleton’s season-opening stomp of Mississippi Valley State

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STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton fans could get used to this.

Beau Allen and Jaden Smith connected for three touchdowns Thursday night in Tarleton Football’s season-opening 29-13 win over Mississippi Valley State, showcasing early the potential of the newcomers. The Texans (1-0, 0-0 WAC) were in full control the entire night at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, improving to 10-3 in home openers under head coach Todd Whitten. The Delta Devils (0-1, 0-0 SWAC), meanwhile, dropped their eight-straight season-opening game.

Allen completed 23-of-39 (.590) passes for 294 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers in his Tarleton debut. Smith, also making his Tarleton debut, had three touchdowns as part of his 11-reception, 95-yard night. Gabe Douglas led the team in receiving yards with 126 on five catches, while Deangelo Rosemond rushed for 111 yards on just 13 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

On the defensive side, Qua’Shawn Washington and D.J. Harris locked down the middle at the linebacker spot, combining for 27 tackles, 2.5 TFL. Washington led with 14 tackles, a half-sack and 1.5 TFL, while Harris had 13 tackles and 1.0 TFL. Kyle Taylor added a sack himself, part of a six-tackle, 1.5-TFL performance.

It was a jam-packed night at Memorial Stadium Thursday, a “Purple Out” to celebrate the return of football in 2022. Nearly 9,000 fans filled the seats and got their first good look at the stadium expansion in progress, with the north endzone bleachers getting ever closer to being finished.

On the field, it was a hot start for the purple and white. On the third play of the game, Allen found Douglas for 39 yards, and later put a ball only Smith could come down with from 10 yards out to put Tarleton ahead 7-0 just over two minutes in. Smith made a one-handed grab, showing his new program quickly what his tall and large frame is capable of.

On the Texans’ second drive, they marched down 78 yards, getting to MVSU’s 2-yard line, but the Delta Devils’ defensive line stood strong and forced a turnover on downs to keep it 7-0 Tarleton after the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, Tarleton went on yet another long drive that resulted in a made field goal, with Adrian Guzman splitting the uprights from 40 yards out. To end their offensive second half, Tarleton scored on an 80-yard drive, set up by a 38-yard connection between Allen and Douglas. Smith scored from five yards out this time via Allen. Tarleton went to the locker room up 16-0, forcing back-to-back half shutouts, dating back to allowing no points in the second half in last year’s season finale against Central Arkansas.

MVSU showed some life to start the third quarter, going 75 yards for their score, a Caleb Johnson 8-yard rushing touchdown. Guzman stretched the lead to 19-7 on Tarleton’s next drive with a career-long 46-yard field goal. He then started the fourth quarter with another make, this time from 25 yards out, going 3-for-3 on the day.

The Texans found the end zone one more time to put the game away in the middle of the fourth, a 2-yard TD pass from Allen to Smith. Once again, the touchdown was set up by a long Douglas reception, this time 36 yards. Rosemond also had a 32-yard run on the drive.

Virtually all of Allen’s stats were career-highs for the redshirt freshman. His 294 yards passing were the most in a Tarleton season-opener since Ben Holmes had 375 at Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 7, 2019, while his three touchdown passes were the most in a Tarleton season-opener in at least the past 10 years. That clearly means Smith’s three touchdowns are the most in a Texan season-opener in at least the last 10 years, as well.

Douglas had his second 100-yard game of his career, his first since going for 190 yards against New Mexico State on Feb. 21, 2021.

Washington’s 14 tackles surpassed any total put up by a Texan last season, the most since Ronnell Wilson tallied 17 tackles in the season finale in the spring 2021 season. That same year, ChadWick Thibodeaux also had 14 tackles in the season opener.

Tarleton outgained MVSU 496-273, averaging 6.1 yards per play. The Texans allowed just 70 passing yards, forcing Delta Devils’ QB Jalani Eason to a 9-of-17 clip.

Next up for the Texans is a date with the TCU Horned Frogs in Fort Worth on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. This will be Tarleton’s first game against a Power Five opponent.

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