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Mustangs Rally Falls Short at Tarleton

October 10th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

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Western New Mexico University had an exciting game against Tarleton State University on Saturday night. While the score at the end of the game was close and Mustang fans probably felt like we had a chance to win, it certainly did not start off that way.

The Mustangs won the opening toss and chose to defer to the second half so they kicked off. Bubba Tandy and the Tarleton State kickoff return team dominated WNMU’s kickoff team as Tandy ran 102 yards to pay dirt and was never really threatened with being tackled.

The Mustang offense came out and quickly move the ball down the field to midfield but their drive stalled. Tarleton State then got a big play touchdown and with just about four minutes expired in the game, Western New Mexico was down 14 to nothing. However the Mustang offense would continue to move the ball both on the ground and through the air. We just could not put points on the board as Tyler Vargas missed a pair of 35 yard field goals. But the Mustang defense was able to keep Tarleton out of the end zone for the rest of the first stanza.

Tarleton would getting another touchdown in the second quarter extending their lead to 21 to nothing. But Western New Mexico would begin to come back and got the score back to within eight points. Coming out of the intermission, W NM you use the big pliability to score within seconds using two big pass plays to get into the end zone. The game was quickly tied at 21 apiece after a two-point conversion.

But Tarleton State was able to score on their next two possessions taking the leap permanently. Western New Mexico would not quit either on offense or defense as they put more points on the board and got some turnovers to stop Tarleton’s offense. However, to missed field goals and 2 missed extra points put W NMU behind. However Tarleton also had some errors, getting penalized 13 times for over 120 yards. Two of those penalties were significant in that a touchdown was called back and an interception of a Mustang pass was also indicated. Western New Mexico was able to score on the next play which definitely changed the complexion of the football game.

A couple of general observations about the game. At the intermission we talked about the adjustments that each coaching staff might make in the second half. Tarleton State had carried the ball very little in the first half gaining only 22 yards. In looking at their previous games while they tend to favor the past, they had clearly run the ball more in those games then they had Saturday night in the first half. I also thought that when Western New Mexico put pressure on Tarleton’s quarterback it not only forced him into quick throws and making errors, but it helped to slow down the running game and that’s part of the reason Tarleton only ran for 22 yards in the first half.

We expected Tarleton to run the ball more and they did. They gained about 125 yards on the ground in the second half most of it coming from their top running back, Sadler. It seemed to me that Western New Mexico did not put as much pressure upfield from the middle linebacker’s in the second half as they did in the first half. And Tarleton was a be able to take advantage of that which also took time off the clock.

Western New Mexico was able to have a balanced office in the first half and DeAndre Williams continue to run the ball well in the second half opening up the passing game for Hall and the wide receivers. I thought Western New Mexico might look to throw the ball downfield the having seen that our wide receivers were able to get behind Tarleton’s defensive backs. Clearly our coaches saw that as well based upon what they did in the first possession of the second half.

This game, like many close games, came down to special teams and penalties. Tarleton states penalties and more of an adverse effect upon them than Western New Mexico’s did up on their team and their efforts. But our special teams, especially the field-goal and extra point unit made too many mistakes. While a kicker has to ignore what’s going on around him, every time Vargas was into kick, there was pressure coming from somewhere. Early it came from around the end but later it came right up the middle of the offensive line for Western New Mexico resulting in an extra point being blocked. That gets into a players head. We just did not seem to be able to stop Tarleton’s defenders from getting through and putting pressure on the kicker.

It was impressive that Western New Mexico’s players did not quit early after falling behind quickly and they made a game of this. Now they are going to have to use that determination against this weekends opponent as commerce comes in suffering their first loss of the season and needing to dominate and win out in order to stay in the postseason hunt.

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