Big Fourth Quarter Comeback Helps Buffs Escape with 34-30 Victory

No. 12/17 West Texas A&M scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter as it battled back from a 30-19 deficit for a 34-30 win Saturday evening over visiting Angelo State. With the win, the Buffs improved to 6-1 on the year and 3-1 in Lone Star conference play, while Angelo State fell to 2-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.

â??There are some mixed emotions coming out of that game,â?? WT senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan said. â??First half, as an offense and a team, we didnâ??t execute like we needed to do. We woke up a bit at halftime and luckily we came out and had a little fight in us. It was nice to see and we needed a game like that to prove we have some fight in us.â??

In what was a dramatic fourth quarter, the WT offense began to come alive early in the quarter as Vaughan converted two first downs and got into ASU territory for the first time in the second half. Sophomore running back Geremy Alridge picked up a first down on the ground on third and one for just the second third down conversion of the game for WT (2 of 9). WT entered the game converting 47 percent of its third downs. Senior kicker Sergio Castillo converted his second field goal of the game, this time a 39-yarder bringing WT within 30-22 with 11:53 remaining in regulation.

WT forced a big three-and-out on the ensuing ASU possession. WT took over at its own 28 with 9:50 remaining. A big 18-yard pass to senior wide receiver Torrence Allen gave WT a first and 10 from the ASU 26 with seven minute remaining. Vaughan then hooked up with senior Jace Jackson for a 19-yard strike to pull the Buffs within 30-28 with 7:13 remaining. The Buffs went for two, but were unable to convert.

The Rams went three-and-out following the WT score, giving WT the ball back with just under five minutes remaining. Vaughan drove WT down the field and after a sack, sophomore wide receiver Jarrian Rhone came up with a great grab for 19-yards and first down at the ASU six. Another sack put WT at 3rd and goal from the 15 with 1:58 left. Vaughan, off play action, passed to senior Aaron Harris out of the backfield for a 15-yard touchdown giving WT the lead at 34-30 with 1:51 left in the game. It was the first lead for WT since a 12-10 lead with 8:34 remaining in the second quarter.

Angelo State had one last chance as Washington completed a shovel pass to Calhoun on a 3rd and 10 from the WT 49 for 39 yards to the WT 10. Two incomplete passes followed and a run to the nine on third down brought up a 4th and goal from the nine. WT senior linebacker Kyle Voss came up with a big pass deflection in the back of the end zone on what would have been the go ahead touchdown with one minute left to give the Buffs the ball. WT ran out the clock for the 34-30 win.

â??You like to see that the guys just enjoyed getting into a fight a little bit,â?? interim head coach Mike Nesbitt said. â??We talked about that and being willing to stand toe-to-toe with someone and stay in the ring and not tap out. That was really impressive with this group tonight and there was a lot of times in the third and fourth quarter when it got to an 11-point lead and the score was against us a little bit, we kept punching and held on tight.â??

WT was led by Vaughan, who tallied 471 yards passing on 32 of 58 with four touchdowns and one interception. Allen tallied 199 yards receiving on 12 catches and two touchdowns. ASU was led by quarterback Kyle Washington who had 106 yards rushing on 11 carries with a score and was 22 of 36 for 298 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Joey Knight had nine catches for 106 yards and one touchdown, while Blake Smith had 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Buffs were led by senior linebacker Taylor McCuller who was all over the field with a career-high 27 total tackles and five solo stops. Voss ha 13 total tackles. Westbrooks tallied the lone sack for the Buffs, while Youngman had a team-high three tackles for loss. ASU was led by 10 tackles from Rush Seaver.

The Buffs showed no ill effects from last weekâ??s second half as they right down the field on the opening possession as Vaughan completed four of five passes, including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Allen for an early 7-0 lead. It was Vaughanâ??s 92nd career touchdown, tying the school career-record with former WT quarterback Keith Null (2005-08) who was in attendance at the game.

The Rams came right back as Washington completed a long pass to Quinn Reels on a 3rd and 7 from their 10 and followed with a read option by Washington for a 43-yard touchdown run and a 7-7 score.

On a 3rd and two from the WT 12, the Buff â??D stiffened and forced the Rams into a field goal attempt. ASU kicker Rhett Peterson missed the 30-yarder wide right. It was the 11th stop by the Buffs in the red zone this season as they entered the game seventh nationally in red zone defense.

The Buffs marched down the field following the missed field goal as senior kicker Sergio Castillo converted from 47 yards out for a 10-7 lead with 14:46 remaining in the second quarter. It was his 12th made field goal in 13 attempts this season.

Washington marched the Rams down the field to the WT four mainly by his own feet on a number of runs. The Buff â??Dâ?? stiffened once again, as Washingtonâ??s pass was incomplete on third down with a great pass rush from sophomore Alex Tucci, forcing a field goal attempt. This time, Reid Layton converted the field goal for a 10-10 score with 11:13 left in the half.

Washington had an illegal forward pass and a false start which proved costly as senior Ethan Westbrooks tackled ASU running back Jermie Calhoun in the end zone for a safety and a 12-10 WT lead midway through the second quarter.

The Buffs took the free kick, but Vaughan was picked off by Ryan Clapsaddle as ASU was setup in good field position on the WT side of the field. It was Vaughanâ??s second interception in as many games and just his second INT of the season. Smith rushed from 17 yards out for a touchdown and a 16-12 Ram lead. WT stood tall on the extra point as Tucci had his second block of the season which proved costly for the Rams in the end.

A big pass to Reels for 43 yards set ASU up once again in WT territory. A tackle in the back field from redshirt freshman linebacker Patric Youngman set at 3rd and 10 from the WT 37 for the Rams. Westbrooks sacked Washington forcing a punt with three minutes and change remaining in the half.

Vaughan orchestrated a record-breaking drive as the Buffs regained the lead with 1:17 left in the half. Allen was on the receiving end of a 9-yard score and a 19-16 lead. It was Vaughanâ??s record-breaking 93rd career touchdown pass and Allenâ??s second touchdown reception of the game.

Washington and the Rams came back with the 2-minute drill as they moved inside the Buffsâ?? 40. Two incompletes forced a fourth and four from the WT 34 for the Rams. ASU converted the fourth down to the WT 25 with 21 seconds left. Washington then threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Joey Knight for a 23-19 lead with 14 ticks remaining silencing the crowd heading into intermission.

ASU held a 367 to 294 lead in total yards for the half, which is very uncharacteristic of the Buffs as they usually are the ones to outgain their opponents, especially in the first half. The Rams held a 176-26 advantage in rushing yards. Vaughan was 15 of 31 for 268 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while Washington was 13 of 18 for 191 yards and a score. He also had 82 yards rushing with a score. Allen had 143 yards receiving on seven catches and two scores, while Knight had six catches for 76 yards and a score for ASU.

â??They (Angelo State) were physical and ready to play tonight,â?? Vaughan added. â??I donâ??t think we were and I donâ??t think we were prepared for what they brought on the defensive side of the ball and we realized at halftime this was going to be a game and a close game and I am glad we decided to fight.â??

The Rams marched down the field on their initial drive of the season half into WT territory, but the Buffs came up with the big play on defense as senior Brian Johnson stripped Blake Smith of the ball giving the Buffs the ball back.

Following a WT punt, the Buffs forced ASU into a 4th and 12 from the WT 35, courtesy of a Westbrooks tackle for loss. Washington had the quick kick as the Rams lined up to go for it. WT took over at its 14 with 8:32 remaining in the third quarter.

After another WT punt, the Rams scored on a third and goal from the WT two as Smith ran up the middle for his second score of the game. ASU extended its lead to 30-19 with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter.