STEPHENVILLE — All week, Tarleton promoted hosting over 20,000 fans at the homecoming game against Sam Houston, and the Texans saw that become reality.
The Texans set a new program attendance record with 20,237 fans inside Memorial Stadium Saturday night, besting last year’s record crowd at their homecoming game against Midwestern State. This year, Tarleton couldn’t keep up with Sam Houston, losing at home for the first time this year and losing their first homecoming game in six years, this one 41-20 at the hands of the Bearkats.
This was technically not a conference game despite the meeting consisting of two WAC teams, since Sam Houston is reclassifying to FBS with their move to Conference USA at the end of the athletic year. So, Tarleton fell to 5-3 overall and remained at 1-1 in WAC, while Sam Houston improved to 5-2 this season.
Despite not much difference in total yardage, Tarleton’s six turnovers proved too many to overcome. Sam Houston outgained Tarleton 477-429, although Tarleton averaged more yards per play (6.4 to 5.9). The purple and white threw three interceptions and lost three fumbles.
Tarleton starting QB Beau Allen completed 15-of-28 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He was spelled late in the game to give Marco Siderman some run, and Siderman’s lone pass was one to remember, a 47-yard touchdown connection. Derrel Kelley III continued his great running of late, going for 119 yards on 18 carries (6.6 yards per rush). Darius Cooper had nine receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
The Texan defensive unit was led by linebacker D.J. Harris and his 12 tackles. He entered Saturday with the most tackles per game in the WAC. Kyle Taylor and Robert Rios combined for a sack, as well.
Tarleton had a special game ball presentation on Saturday, but Sam Houston provided the early fireworks, with Zach Hrbacek busting an 80-yard touchdown run on the second offensive play of the game. The Texans responded with a touchdown on their opening drive, a nine-play, 70-yard march that ended in an Allen 9-yard touchdown to Jaden Smith, his eighth touchdown reception of the season. Sam Houston wasn’t done in the frame though, answering themselves with a 10-play, 76-yard drive that resulted in a Charles Crawford two-yard rushing score. Sam Houston led 14-7 after the first quarter.
Tarleton was held scoreless from there until the fourth quarter, with the Bearkats making four field goals and scoring one TD (a Dezmon Jackson 18-yard rush) in the meantime. Sam Houston led 20-7 at halftime and 23-7 after three. Allen found Cooper from 23 yards out with 9:07 remaining to make it 33-14 Sam Houston. Cooper caught another one just over five minutes later, this time 47 yards out from Siderman.
It was largely a game of missed opportunities for Tarleton. Blake Smith forced a fumble on a big hit on KeSean Raven, that was initially called incomplete, so Patrick Jones’ recovery that he may have housed was whistled dead. On the next play, the Texans threw an interception.
In the second quarter, the Texans had a long drive cooking, going nine plays for 68 yards to the Sam Houston 7-yard line. Somehow on a man-to-man matchup, Sam Houston’s David Fisher pinned an interception one armed to his midsection in the end zone to rob Tarleton of scoring on the drive. On Tarleton’s final drive of the second quarter in the two-minute drill, a wide receiver slipped on his route and Da’Veawn Armstead recorded the interception. Fumbles by positional players and a muffed punt gave Tarleton little chance in the comeback bid.
Sam Houston’s Hrbacek had 203 rushing yards on 20 carries, plus two touchdowns. Defensively, Kevin Gaither had two fumble recoveries.
Cooper’s 190 yards are a new career-high and the most receiving yards by a Texan since 2020-21. He has six touchdowns over his last five games, his seventh of the season. Kelley’s 119 yards rushing makes back-to-back 100-yard games, three in the last four. He is just the third running back over Sam Houston’s last 39 games played to hit the century mark on the ground.
Tarleton has one more game remaining on their three-game homestand. They’ll host Abilene Christian on Saturday, Nov. 5., at 7 p.m. CT.