the JTAC

Tarleton Football-Outright Lonestar Conference Champions

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The JTAC Brittainie Cason
Coach Todd Whitten while The Sound and Fury plays The Color Song after their victory over Western New Mexico in Memorial Stadium on Nov. 10.

Picked to finish fifth in preseason polls, the Tarleton State University football team has exceeded all expectations after clinching the programs first outright conference championship title in program history. The Texans finished the season 10-0 in overall play and 9-0 in conference play after shutting out Western New Mexico 58-0 marking the first undefeated season in program history in the NCAA era. The 2018 football team is the second team to have an undefeated season in Tarleton history. The only other Texan football team to achieve this feat was the 1990 Texans, back when Tarleton was in the TIAA conference.

The shutout was the Texan’s defense’s first shutout since 2006 led by E.J. Speed who recorded 11 tackles. In the latest American Football Coaches Association rankings, Tarleton moved up one spot to No. 6 which ties for the highest ranking spot in program history.

Tarleton opened the game in a commanding way putting the first points on the board in just the second play of the game with a 46-yard run from Xavier Turner. Turner went on to top 100 rushing yards in just the first 15 minutes of the game. Turners run game has been a constant for the Texans this season with 1,100 yards rushing over the regular season. Turner’s outstanding ability to run the ball and break tackles isn’t the only thing that makes him a great player. One of Turner’s goals at the beginning of the season was to be a better leader and mentor on the team. Through leading by example and being a voice on the team Turner feels has accomplished this goal.

“It’s all about showing the younger guys how to do it and having the right mentality whenever everyone isn’t wanting to practice it is about being a leader and bringing the energy,” said Turner.

His goals don’t stop at that, his personal goals are to rush 1,500 yards, a number he is quickly closing in on, and to score 25 touchdowns, he is at 18 after Saturday’s game. Turner is quick to give the offensive line the credit for his ability to efficiently run the ball.

“The guys up front, credit to those guys, coming out and being physical every day,” Turner said. “I’ve been able to rely on them and trust them all season long.”

The dominance of the Texans continued into the second half of the game as Prince Robinson not only returned the opening kickoff for a 92 yard touchdown, but less than five minutes later had a 82 yard punt return that resulted in a touchdown. The Texan offense finished the game with a 402-yard rushing performance and quarterback, Ben Holmes threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Self-discipline and keeping penalties to a minimum is something the team has stressed throughout the season and plans to continue stressing going into this Saturday. Maintaining what they do in practice and the hard work that they have put in all summer and season long is something that Turner feels has been important in their success this season.

Throughout the whole season the Texans have been described as having great energy and great leaders on the team. Holmes has been at the center of this energy all season.

After their win against Western New Mexico, Holmes said, “we owe the credit to the coaching first, we just have a lot of guys that like to play football and win and get after it every day.”

 

The JTAC Brittainie Cason
President Dottavio handing off the winning trophy to Head Coach Todd Whitten after their victorious game.

When asked what he felt the team needs to do in order to keep the winning season rolling Holmes replied, “we just need to keep doing what we are doing, we practice so well, better than any team I’ve ever been around so as long as we keep doing what we’ve been doing I think we’ll be good.”

Although Holmes describes himself as a team centered player who does not pay much attention to his own stats, it is hard to ignore his outstanding performance in his first season as quarterback for the Texans as Holmes has completed 2,031 passing yards.

In the number two seed position in NCAA Super Region Four Tarleton will host an NCAA playoff football game for the first time in school history. Azusa Pacific University out of Azusa, California made the long trek to Memorial Stadium to take on the Texans Nov. 17. Azusa Pacific, number seven seed,  earned their spot in the playoffs after upsetting number 18 team Central Washington in the final week of the regular season.

The Texans defeated Azusa Pacific 58-0 in the first round of playoffs. The Texans second round of playoffs will take place in Stephenville, Texas at Memorial Stadium this Saturday Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. against the reigning Division II National Champion, Texas A&M Commerce. The Texans defeated Texas A&M Commerce 47-21 on Oct. 13 at AMC Memorial Stadium in Commerce, Texas.

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