WT Buffs fall in crazy ending

punt on a 4th-and-16 ricocheted away from No. 12 West Texas A&M junior punter Kevin VanVoris as No. 10 Midwestern Stateâ??s Marqui Christian recovered and ran in for the game winning touchdown giving the visiting Mustangs a 52-48 win on Senior Night at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.

â??Itâ??s a really hard loss,â?? WT head coach Don Carthel added. â??Itâ??s one of the hardest losses Iâ??ve had as a coach and I am sure for these players it is the hardest loss theyâ??ve had. They have worked their tails off all year long. Theyâ??ve been great and theyâ??ve responded every time in the last three weeks at halftime as weâ??ve made adjustments and played really well in the second half. The last two minutes we let it get away from us tonight.â??

The Buffaloes (8-2, 6-1 LSC) had a 48-38 lead with 2:55 to play as they went for it on 4th and four from the six as senior quarterback Dustin Vaughan threw a touchdown pass â?? his third of the game to senior running back Khiry Robinson. Vaughan was 30 of 47 for 391 yards and three scores in the game, while Robinson had a career-high 147 yards on the ground on a season-high 23 carries, while catching four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. He had a game-high 233 all-purpose yards.

From there, Midwestern State (8-1, 7-1 LSC) quarterback Brandon Kelsey threw a 16-yard pass to open its drive, followed by a 56-yard strike to Jared Freeman to the WT three. Kelsey rank in for his third rushing touchdown of the night for a 48-45 deficit.

WT recovered the onside kick and looked as if it would be able to run out the clock, but went three-and-out setting up the mishandled punt.

â??They made some plays on offense and threw the ball down the field and we didnâ??t do a good job on covering and reacting to the ball,â?? head coach Don Carthel said. â??They got down there and scored, but we still had them down three. It shouldnâ??t have been as easy as it was, but they have some athletes and they got seven points on the board. We needed to make a first down and run out the clock, but we couldnâ??t do it. We got in the punt formation and made a mistake that we havenâ??t had all year as the snap grazed one of personal protectors and ricocheted where Kevin (VanVoris) couldnâ??t get it and they scooped and scored like a good team is supposed to do.â??

Following the touchdown by the Mustangs, Vaughan had 55 seconds to work and fired a 39-yard strike to Lance Ratliff getting the Buffs to the MSU 29. A big sack from Matt Ellerbrock, followed by an incomplete pass and an interception by Kendall Wrenn just outside the goal line sealed the game.

Ratliff had a career-high 180 yards and a touchdown in his first game since Sept. 29. He had a game-high 11 receptions. Redshirt freshman Jarrian Rhone had six receptions for 61 yards, while junior Torrence Allen had five receptions for 82 yards.

Defensively the Buffs were led by junior linebacker Taylor McCuller who had a game-high 12 total tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Junior linebacker Kyle Voss had eight tackles. MSU was led by Gadrian Muse who had 10 total tackles with one of two sacks and two tackles for loss.

The game was a back-and-forth affair from the start as the teams combined for 54 first downs, 1,106 total yards and 100 points. The Mustangs had 333 yards rushing on 43 attempts for a 7.7 average, while WT had 134 yards on the ground on 31 carries. MSUâ??s Keidrick Jackson, the conferenceâ??s leading rusher, had 149 yards on the ground on 20 carries and two scores.

The Buffaloes took the opening kick and drove 58 yards on 12 plays for 5:08 as junior Sergio Castillo, Jr., kicked a 34-yard field goal as the Buffs converted two third and longâ??s on the drive, including two rushes Robinson for a combined 27 yards setting up the field goal.

Midwestern State, known for a good rushing attack, didnâ??t disappoint in its first two drives accounting for 87 yards rushing and 47 yards passing as Kelsey and Jackson each scored touchdowns for a 14-3 lead midway through the first quarter.

From there, the teams basically traded scores as MSU scored touchdowns on its first four drives. WT pulled within 28-24 with 3:21 remaining in the first half as Robinson has a nice rush for 26 yards, followed by a Robinson score from seven yards out.

Following a MSU punt, which was the first stop by the Buff defense in the game, Vaughan hooked up with Robinson for a 47-yard pass setting the Buffs up. Robinson then ran in from 20 out for a 31-28 lead.

MSU had a chance to tie at the end of the first half, but kicker Greg Saladino pushed a 26-yard field goal wide right. The Mustangs tied the game at 31 on their opening drive of the second half, but WT responded with the first of two miscues by MSU in the third quarter. A 37-yard punt by VanVoris was muffed by Dominique Williams as WT long-snapper junior Ramon Lopez recovered at the MSU 14.

The drive was interesting as seven of the first eight snaps resulted in penalties as Vaughan threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Trevor Hammargren for a 38-31 lead. MSU running back Chauncey Harris then fumbled on the ensuing MSU possession as McCuller forced and recovered the fumble at the MSU 29.

The Buffs had first and 10 at the 11, but two incomplete passes forced Castillo to kick for a 41-31 lead with 2:28 left in the third.

A fumble by Robinson proved costly early in the fourth setting up the comeback for MSU. Ellerbrock recovered the Robinson miscue as Muse forced the fumble at the WT 20. Kelsey threw a 20-yard pass to Mark Strange for a 41-38 score with 14:02 remaining.

The Buffaloes will look to rebound next Saturday in the regular season finale at Texas A&M-Commerce. WT can still earn a share of the Lone Star Conference Championship with a win over the Lions. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.

â??Our main thing right now is to finish strong next week at Texas A&M-Commerce and be co-champions of the Lone Star Conference and hopefully be in the playoffs,â?? Carthel added. â??We are a really good football team and I canâ??t see how they couldnâ??t keep both of these teams out of the playoffs as well as both of us have played this whole season.â??