No. 4 West Texas A&M Upset by No. 21 Tarleton State in Final Minute

The fourth-ranked West Texas A&M Buffaloes dropped a 31-27 heartbreaker Saturday evening at No. 21 Tarleton State. With the loss, the Buffs fell to 5-1 and 2-1 in Lone Star Conference play, while Tarleton State improved to 6-0 and 4-0 in league play.

In what was a tale of two halves for the Buffs, WT held a 27-3 lead at intermission, but was outscored 28-0 in the second half and 21-0 in the fourth quarter as TSU scored its go ahead touchdown with 44 seconds remaining for its first lead of the game.

â??We just werenâ??t executing like we know how in the second half,â?? senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan said. â??We have to come out and be completely different in the next game and play all four quarters the way we know how. We came out good in the first half, but I donâ??t know what happened in the second. We never want to let our foot off the gas and we did in this game and paid the price.â??

The Buffs jumped out to a 6-0 lead early in the first half off a miscue by TSU on the first play from scrimmage as Texan running back Jerome Regal fumbled the hand off as WT recovered at the TSU 27. Vaughan threw his first of two touchdown passes in the game to senior Jace Jackson for a 6-0 lead. The extra point was blocked by TSU.

The Texans scored a field goal on their second possession for a 6-3 score midway through the quarter. WT went on top 13-3 as senior running back Aaron Harris had a nice drive with 43 of the 80-yard drive as he scored from a yard out with 1:49 remaining in the quarter.

From there, the Buff â??Dâ?? came up with the second big turnover as senior defensive back Curtis Slater climbed the ladder and picked off Aaron Doyleâ??s pass with a nice grab in mid-air for his team-leading third pick of the year.

This drive, it was sophomore running back Geremy Alridge who did most of the damage as he scored from five yards out for a 20-3 lead which really silenced the crowd of 8,147.

Texan field goal kicker Blake Barnes missed a 30-yarder wide right on TSUâ??s next possession giving the Buffs the ball back as Vaughan orchestrated another 80-yard scoring drive as he hooked up with junior wide receiver Anthony Johnson for a 27-3 lead with 3:07 remaining in the half. It was Vaughanâ??s second touchdown of the game giving him 91 for his career as he pulled within one of tying Keith Null for the most in a career in school history.

TSU took over at its 30 and marched down the field, but another great stop by the Buff defense turned the Texans away with no points and the second stop in the red zone in the half.

After a WT punt on its first possession of the second half, TSU began getting some momentum back as it used a 16 play 90-yard driving consuming 5:38 as Doyle ran in from one yard out for a 27-10 score midway through the third.

â??Even in the first half, some of the little plays we didnâ??t make, like the missed extra point, they add up,â?? interim head coach Mike Nesbitt said. â??Thatâ??s something weâ??ve talked about since day one as the small things add up and tonight that happened.â??

WT went three-and-out on its next possession and tallied just two turnovers in the third quarter as the Buffs led 27-10 through three quarters.

Early in the fourth, Vaughan threw his first interception of the season as the ball was tipped and Marc Martinez came up with it. Moments later, senior defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks sacked TSU quarterback Jake Fenske as he fumbled and WT senior linebacker Kyle Voss recovered.

WT moved to TSUâ??s 20 on the ensuing possession, but a big loss nine-yard loss on third and six pushed the Buffs back to the 29 and a 46-yard field goal attempt from senior Sergio Castillo. Castillo missed the field goal wide left as it was his first miss of the season.

Tarleton State took over and Fenske hit Clifton Rhodes III for 45 yards on the drive, including a 36-yarder on a third and 12 and the score from four yards out for a 27-16 score. TSU had a bad snap on the extra point attempt.

After a three-and-out by WT, Fenske hooked up with Leâ??Nard Meyers for 63-yard touchdown for a 27-24 score with 5:38 left. Fenske converted the two-point attempt to Meyers.

WT got a first down on the ensuing possession, but had to punt once again. Tarleton State took over with 2:40. After Westbrooksâ?? second sack of the game, the Texans got out of the jam as Fenske hooked up with Rhodes for a big 22-yard gain. Meyers caught a 14-yarder on a third and 12 and Meyers caught a jump ball for 22 yards to the WT seven. He then caught the game winner for a 31-27 advantage with 44 seconds left.

For the game, the Buffs were led by 66 yards on the ground by Harris and one score. Senior wide receiver Torrence Allen had five catches for 74 yards, while Vaughan was 25 of 41 with one interception and two touchdowns for 255 yards.

TSU had 427 yards passing with 133 on the ground. Fenske threw for 388 on 25 of 42, while Doyle was 1 of 3 with an interception. Meyers had eight catches for 168 yards and two touchdowns, while Rhodes tallied seven catches for 134 yards and a score.

Defensively, Slater had a career-high 16 tackles with 11 solo stops and an interception. Westbrooks had a season-high nine tackles and two sacks with four tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Marcus Wadley had 15 tackles for Tarleton State.

WT will look to get back on the winning track Saturday, Oct. 19, at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium versus Angelo State.