SPRING FOOTBALL ROUNDUP: Tarleton State becomes winningest NCAA scholarship program in Texas since 2018; Incarnate Word shocks SE Louisiana
Playing in its long-awaited 60th annual homecoming football game at Stephenville’s Memorial Stadium Saturday, the Tarleton State Texans became the winningest NCAA scholarship program in the state of Texas since 2018 with a convincing 33-21 victory over longtime rival Midwestern State.
With the unprecedented college spring football season heading toward the homestretch, the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and NCAA Division III races have seen the cream rising to the top.
In other FCS action across Texas, Southern (2-1) rolled over Texas Southern (0-2), 51-23, Incarnate Word (3-0) shocked 16th-ranked Southeastern La. (2-1), 56-45, in a shootout, Sam Houston State (3-0) destroyed Lamar (1-3), 62-7, and McNeese State (1-3) earned its first win of the season at Northwestern State (0-3), 21-7
Earning a berth in the American Southwest Conference Championship game, the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (4-0) dominated second place Louisiana College (2-2), 65-20, to clinch the ASC East title at Belton’s Crusader Stadium.
In other NCAA Division III action, the American Southwest Conference featured ASC West champion Hardin-Simmons (4-0) crushing Sul Ross State (0-4), 58-6, on the road, while Howard Payne (2-2) eased past McMurry (1-3), 24-3.
TARLETON STATE 33, MIDWESTERN STATE 21
STEPHENVILLE – Jumping out to an early 13-0 lead, the Tarleton State Texans hung on for a 33-21 homecoming victory over rival Midwestern State on Saturday at Memorial Stadium to become the winningest scholarship NCAA program in the state of Texas since 2018
Breaking a tie with Texas A&M, the Texans (4-2) posted its 27th win with two games left in the 2021 spring schedule.
Redshirt junior quarterback Steven Duncan threw three touchdown passes as the Texan offense compiled 414 yards of total offense and 27 first-half points to cruise past the visiting Mustangs. In the meantime, Tarleton State’s defense limited Midwestern State to only 191 yards of total.
Finishing by completing 20 of 28 passes for 183 yards, Duncan has thrown for 530 yards completing 43 of 61 passes for seven touchdowns and no turnovers over the last two games.
A game after a 200-yard performance, senior wide receiver Tariq Bitson hauled in 83 yards on six catches and two touchdowns. Senior running back Ryheem Skinner ran for 102 yards and a score, the third time in four games he’s topped 100 this season.
Defensively, senior linebacker Ronnell Wilson and sophomore linebacker DJ Harris led the Texans with six tackles each, followed by senior linebacker Zech Hopkins also had five solo tackles.
In a series that dates back to 1926, Tarleton now owns the all-time 23-12-1 lead, including a 13-4 advantage in Stephenville. Tarleton and Midwestern State began competing as junior college rivals and have squared off in every season since 2004, including a 35-34 overtime win to clinch the 2018 NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference Championship.
INCARNATE WORD 56, SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA 45
SAN ANTONIO – Igniting for 28 unanswered points in the middle of the game, the 22nd-ranked Incarnate Word Cardinals surged to shock 16th-ranked Southeastern Louisiana, 56-45, in a wild shootout Saturday.
With the win, Incarnate Word (3-0) earned a share of their first Southland Conference title since 2018 after winning their first three conference games of the season.
Freshman quarterback Cameron Ward set a school record with seven touchdowns, rushing for one score and throwing for six more while completing 26 of 47 passes for 407 yards. With Ward leading the potent offensive attack, the Cardinals have averaged 596 total yards of offense while putting an incredible 48.7 points per game.
Redshirt junior wide receiver Tre Wolf hauled in eight passes for 183 yards and caught a 26-yard touchdown pass with three seconds left in the first half to send UIW to the locker room with a 35-16 lead. Senior running back Kevin Brown rushed for 190 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.
UIW will now play two of the top teams in the Southland over its final three games, beginning with a trip to Thibodaux, La. to meet Nicholls next week in the Cardinals last road game of the regular season.
If the Cardinals defeat the Colonels next week and Northwestern State at home on April 10, it will set up a possible winner-take the Southland Conference title showdown with Sam Houston on April 17.
SAM HOUSTON STATE 62, LAMAR 7
BEAUMONT – Redshirt sophomore quarterback Eric Schmid accounted for six touchdowns to lead the seventh-ranked Sam Houston Bearkats to an overwhelming 62-7 victory over Lamar Saturday night at Provost-Umphrey Stadium.
Senior wide receiver Jequez Ezzard produced 215 all-purpose yards and three scores on just six touches as the Bearkats (3-0) built up a 38-0 halftime lead and finished off the youthful Cardinals (1-3) in convincing fashion. With the win, the Bearkats remained tied with Incarnate Word at the top of the Southland Conference.
MARY HARDIN-BAYLOR 65 LOUISIANA COLLEGE 20
BELTON – Clinching the outright American Southwest Conference East Division title, the Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders crushed second place Louisiana College, 65-20, Saturday afternoon in Belton’s Crusader Stadium.
With the win, UMHB (4-0) advances to next weekend’s ASC Championship Game against West Division champion Hardin-Simmons.
Holding a 34-20 advantage just before halftime, the Crusaders scored 31 unanswered points to seal the win. Junior quarterback Kyle King threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more as UMHB rolled up 539 yards of total offense with 298 of those coming through the air.
The Cru defense forced three turnovers and recorded four sacks. Senior linebacker Jacob Mueller finished with a team-high 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
The Cru will now advance to the ASC Championship Game next Saturday to face Hardin-Simmons for the conference title at 1 p.m. in Abilene’s Shelton Stadium. The winner of the UMHB-HSU game has gone on to win at least a share of every ASC Championship since the Cru started football in 1998.
Photos courtesy of TARLETON STATE FOOTBALL, UMHB ATHLETICS, SAM HOUSTON STATE ATHLETICS & INCARNATE WORD ATHLETICS
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