A Competitive LSC Playoff Games for OPSU Football

KSCB News - November 9, 2015 6:27 am

A Competitive LSC Playoff Game for OPSU Football

By Justine Gaskamp on 11/08/2015

Goodwell, Okla.-Facing a super-sized West Texas A&M team the Aggies played
with passion and purpose in the first round Lone Star Conference playoff
game Saturday afternoon at Carl Wooten Field.

In what could have been seen as a David vs. Goliath match-up, the Aggies
rose to the challenge and gave the Buffs a bigger battle than they had
bargained for. Although WT pulled out a fourth-quarter win (28-21), the
Aggies put up a full 60-minute fight and held their own throughout the game.

Fans on both sides of the stadium got a great show starting with a defensive
stand-off that left the score at 0-0 after the first quarter of play. OPSU’s
defense got two three-and-out stops, broke through with one sack (Tanner
Hallford) and held the Buffs to just nine yards rushing in the opening
quarter. Meanwhile, running back Chris McClendon was able to jet for 70
yards against the big WT defense.

On the opening drive of the second quarter a fumble on a fourth-and-one play
for the Aggies was recovered by the Buffs deep in their own territory.
Eleven plays and 81 yards later, the scoreboard read 7-0 in favor of the
visiting team; WT went for it on fourth-and-one and sent their leading
rusher, Geremy Alridge-Mitchell, twelve yards into the end zone for the
first touchdown of the day. The Aggies were held scoreless in the first

OPSU opted to receive in the second half and were moving the chains with
four consecutive run plays that totaled 25 yards. A dropped pass on third
down looked to force a punt, but punter Jacob Test pulled up the snap for a
pass play on fourth-and seven; the Buffs were ready for the fake and
received possession midfield on the incomplete pass. With their rush-game
halted by the Aggie D, WT looked to the pass and were effective with four
completions on the ensuing drive; the last of which went 18 yards for their
second touchdown. The Aggies stuck to the ground-game and took the next six
plays 78 yards into Buffalo territory. Chris McClendon worked his way across
the goal line on a 31-yard run to put the Aggies on the board. WT answered
on the following drive after breaking through with four rushes and two pass
plays that totaled 75 yards. Xazier Murry’s nice kickoff return of 25 yards
was nullified on the next play where the Buffs forced a fumble on a complete
pass and recovered the ball on their own 37 yard line. The Aggie defense
stepped up and held WT to a punt with less than a minute left in the third
quarter, giving OPSU the ball going into the fourth.

Quarterback Shane Truelove connected with freshman receiver Will McKinnis
three times for 29 yards in the opening series of the fourth quarter. In a
21-play drive that went 88 yards the Aggies narrowed the gap with a pass to
the end-zone from Truelove to senior tight end J.B. Frontz. Momentum shifted
and the crowd roared on the following drive when senior safety Xazier Murry
came down with a big pick-six to tie the game at 21-21 with eight minutes
left in the game. The Buffs found their rhythm in the rush on the next drive
and went 65 yards in nine plays to reclaim the lead with a touchdown. Under
five minutes on the clock gave the Aggies an opportunity to answer back, but
the WT defense put the brakes on as the Aggies approached the red zone. An
incomplete pass on fourth down turned the ball over in the final minute of
play and the Buffs assumed victory formation to end the game.

The Aggies were successful with the run totaling 243 yards rushing against
the Buffs. McClendon led the game with 170 yards rushing on 20 carries for
one touchdown, and was followed by Truelove who rushed for 45 yards on ten
carries. Truelove threw for 123 yards and one touchdown, and freshman Eddie
Thomas went 1-1 passing for 16 yards giving the Aggie QBs 139 on the day.
Leading the OPSU receivers were Will McKinnis who totaled 36 yards on four
completions and McClendon who had three catches for 52 yards. McClendon was
also the game leader in all-purpose yards with 223.

On the defense Xazier Murry led the team in tackles with 11 and had one
interception for a 40-yard touchdown; Murry also led in pass breakups with
two. Seniors Tanner Hallford, Glenn Bonner and Isaia Vimoto each totaled
nine tackles in their final home game of their college careers. Hallford
also had one sack and one tackle for loss in the game.

Coach Russell Gaskamp was disappointed with the loss but had positive
comments about the day, "I’m very proud of how hard we played and how great
our fans were." He elaborated on his team’s performance saying, "There were
a few opportunities where we didn’t execute and the two turnovers in
plus-territory really hurt us, taking away scoring opportunities. For the
most part, though, our kids executed our game plan the best they could. Late
in the game we tied things up and had a chance and that’s all you can ask
for is to give yourself a chance. Eventually we have to figure out how to
get over the hump and beat a really good team like West Texas."

The Aggies will finish their season on the road with a second-round LSC
playoff game versus Tarleton State who they met up with in week eight.
Gaskamp concluded, "We’ve got one more chance this week to have a winning
season which would carry over a ton of momentum into the off-season and the
recruiting cycle."

OPSU Football holds a 5-4 overall record and looks forward to a great
re-match with the Cowboys this weekend. Game time in Stephenville is set for
Noon and fans unable to make the road trip can keep up with the Aggies via
live stats and video links available on the football page of the OPSU Aggie
Athletics website.


Justine Gaskamp


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