To begin year two of the Gary Goff era, the McNeese Cowboys opened the 2023 season at home versus the Tarleton State Texans. The contest was initially delayed due to lightning in the area and didn’t start until about an hour later. The defense came up with stops in the first half but the Cowboys fell apart toward the end and drop their season opener to Tarleton State 52-34.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
The Cowboys started on defense as they deferred to receive in the second half. They would force a three-and-out. Nate Glantz came in at quarterback for McNeese on their first drive. Glantz would throw two incompletions and the Cowboys would punt right back to the Texans.
Derrel Kelley III had a big gain of 40 yards for Tarleton to set themselves up in Cowboy territory to the 23-yard line. A couple of plays later, Gabalis was intercepted by Levi Wyatt at the one-yard line with 11:28 left in the first quarter.
Following another three-and-out by McNeese, Jalen Carr returned the punt 35 yards to the Cowboy 24-yard line. The Texans would punch it in as Kayvon Britten scored from nine yards out to take the early 7-0 lead.
McNeese’s Cam Thomas would return the following kickoff 91 yards to the house in 14 seconds to tie the game with 8:17 left in the opening quarter.
The Texans would answer right back with a 12-play 73-yard touchdown drive. Gabalis completed 5/6 passes on the drive, two on third down to extend the drive. On 3rd & 4, Gabalais went to Jaden Smith for the five-yard score. Tarleton took 4:06 off of the clock.
A couple of drives later, Glantz and D’angelo Durham kept it on the ground as they drove down the field to tie the game at 14 with 9:37 left in the half. They both took turns carrying the ball and Durham broke two tackles to score the six-yard touchdown.
The snap for Tarleton wasn’t clean and De’core Ford recovered the fumble for McNeese to set up a short field. That next possession Glantz completed his first passes to Jalen Johnson for a short one-yard pickup and John McCall for 18 yards. Glantz’s pass on third down in the endzone was incomplete to Jonathan Harris. The Cowboys settled for a 27-yard Garrison Smith Field Goal and took their first lead of the season.
Gabalis and the Texans offense drove down the field and threatened to score late in the first half after a 28-yard catch by Darius Cooper set up 1st & GOAL from the seven-yard line. Two plays later, Gabalis underthrew to his intended receiver and was picked off by Johnquai Lewis in the end zone.
Tarleton knocked through a 41-yard field goal as halftime approached to tie the game at 17.
McNeese received the ball to start the second half and drove down the field for 12 plays as Glantz took it in himself for the one-yard score. Cowboys led 24-17 just four and a half minutes into the second half.
A couple drive later, Texans would tie the game back up on a 62-yard touchdown catch by Dejuan Miller with 6:33 left in the third.
After a Cowboys punt, the Texans offense had another extended drive that lasted 11 plays for 64 yards. Kelley III capped off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run to go up 31-24.
The Texans extended their lead in the fourth quarter. On 3rd & 8, Gabalis dumped the ball off to Britten for the 16-yard touchdown.
Britten would score again a couple minutes later. This time from three-yards out to put Tarleton up 45-24 with 7:36 left in the fourth quarter.
Tre Simmons threw an interception to Adrian Guzman who returned it for a pick-six for Tarleton to go up 52-24.
Following the defensive touchdown by the Texans, McNeese put Glantz back in at quarterback and he led the Cowboys down the field and ended up scoring from one-yard out to cut the deficit down.
McNeese would recover their onside kick attempt with 2:19 left and knocked through a field goal as time expired but it wouldn’t be enough as the Cowboys drop their first game of the season to Tarleton State 52-34.
BIG NUMBER: 35
The defense of the Cowboys fell apart in the second half of Saturday night’s game versus Tarleton State as they gave up 28 out of 35 straight points as McNeese fell to the Texans 52-34.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Kayvon Britten
Even though Britten didn’t finish with a huge chunk the his team’s yardage, he still was able to score three total touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) and ran for 82 yards on 19 carries while also catching two passes for 25 yards.
UP NEXT: The McNeese Cowboys will travel to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. That game will be played Saturday, September 9th with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m.