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Serving notice to the FCS nation, Tarleton State tramples FBS New Mexico State, 43-17, in El Paso’s Sun Bowl to earn national ranking

EL PASO – To call it shocking would be an understatement in the world of NCAA Division I football. Not only do the Tarleton State Texans earn their first-ever win as an FCS program Sunday afternoon at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, they did so by thrashing an FBS squad.

Stampeding to 23 first quarter points, the Texans built a commanding first half advantage before coasting to a convincing 43-17 victory over the New Mexico State Aggies. And in the process, poll voters took notice by placing Tarleton State at No. 22 in the FCS Top 25.

Playing without five offensive starters ruled out due to COVID-19 protocols, Tarleton State senior quarterback Cameron Burston came off the bench to pass for two touchdowns and run for two more.

“This is huge,” Tarleton State head coach Todd Whitten said. “Everybody in the country is facing a lot of adversity, and we’re no different. I couldn’t be more proud of our football team and the way they fought this afternoon. Our guys stepped up and bought into ‘next man up’, especially our quarterback Cam.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Cam,” he added. “Going from the backup role to getting out there and playing really well. We gave him the game ball. I’m as proud of Cam as any quarterback I’ve ever coached.”

Named the starter just hours before kickoff, Burston proved to be electric by scoring on the Texans’ first two offensive plays of the game. Burston turned a keeper into a 70-yard scoring run on the first play from scrimmage. Then after the Texan defense held New Mexico State, Burston quickly connected with junior wide receiver Gabe Douglas for an 86-yard touchdown strike.

In his first career start, Burston completed 15 of 29 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for a team-high 79 yards and two scores. Douglas finished with a team-high seven catches for 190 yards and two scores.

After building an overwhelming 33-7 halftime lead, the Tarleton State defense provided some second half highlights on the first two Aggie possessions when Benjie Franklin and Donovan Banks picked off the Aggie signal caller on back-to-back drives before the Texans capitalized for scores.

Defensively, Tarleton dominated the Aggies, allowing only 54 yards on the ground and a paltry 241 total yards while producing three turnovers.

Looking to produce its first NCAA DI winning streak, Tarleton returns home to take on FCS Independent and WAC transitional member Dixie State Trailblazers at 2 p.m. Saturday in Stephenville.


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