NACOGDOCHES — In a game featuring the top two ranked teams in the first official edition of the ASUN-WAC Power rankings, it was Stephen F. Austin who came up on top over Tarleton on Saturday night in Nacogdoches 41-24.
The Texans (4-2- 1-1 WAC) had their three-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Lumberjacks (4-3, 1-0 WAC), who improved their home winning streak at Homer Bryce Stadium to 13.
Turnovers and big plays by SFA plagued Tarleton in this one. The Texans were unable to overcome two interceptions, a fumble lost and five sacks allowed, and got outgained 491 to 339 in total yardage.
Beau Allen completed 18-of-31 (.581) passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Derrel Kelley III led the rushing attack with 98 yards on 14 carries (7.0 yards per rush) and a touchdown. Jaden Smith finished with six catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, and Darius Cooper caught a touchdown in the final minute, going for six receptions and 68 yards.
Defensively, D.J. Harris led with 12 tackles, three tackles for a loss. Qua’Shawn Washington was just behind him at 11 tackles and one TFL. Kyle Taylor had eight tackles plus a fumble recovery, and Blaine Hoover had eight tackles to go with a sack. Segun Ijiyera also had a fumble recovery, to go with three tackles, two TFL.
The first quarter belonged to the defenses and special teams, with SFA jumping ahead 7-0 after the first frame. Tarleton’s defense began with a quick three-and-out, with Hoover getting to SFA QB Trae Self early on the sack. A Tarleton turnover and a few defensive stands later, SFA WR Xavier Gipson returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown to give the ‘Jacks the early lead.
Adrian Guzman got Tarleton on the board to start the second by remaining perfect on the year, a 29-yard field goal to make it 7-3. On the Texans’ next drive, Allen found Smith near the goal line, who shrugged off the defensive back to make it a 35-yard touchdown, his seventh TD of the season through six games. SFA nearly responded, but on a goal-to-go situation, Ijiyera snatched a Self fumble out of the air to give Tarleton the football. With 35 seconds remaining in the half, Self found Gipson for his second touchdown of the day from 21 yards out to give SFA a 14-10 lead at the break.
After SFA made a field goal early in the third quarter, Tarleton drove 72 yards, capping it off with Kelley’s 33-yard rushing touchdown to tie the game at 17. It was all SFA from there, scoring on their next drive, a Jeremia Miller 4-yard score, the start of 24 unanswered points. Miles Reed paced SFA in the running game with 137 yards on 19 carries. Gipson had four catches, 93 yards and a receiving touchdown to go with his punt return TD.
The Texans finally return home after not playing in Stephenville for nearly a month. They’ll begin a three-game homestand on Saturday, Oct. 22, against Southwest Baptist at Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. CT. It will be Tarleton’s Pink Out, so all fans are encouraged to don pink in support of breast cancer awareness.