The 2021 FCS Spring season began in dramatic fashion on Saturday night. QB Cody Orgeron scored a 19-yard walk-off rushing touchdown in the second overtime to lift visiting McNeese State to a 40-37 win over Tarleton State in the only game played this weekend.
The Cowboys of Lake Charles, Louisiana, rallied from a 31-17 fourth quarter deficit in the final 2:46 of regulation to hand the Texans a disappointing loss in their first game as a FCS program. The loss ended Tarleton's streak of 21 straight regular season victories.
Tarleton State still has 4 D-2 games on their slate. The only remaining FCS games are a home-and-home with another FCS newcomer, Dixie State. The Texans face FBS member New Mexico State next Saturday.
McNeese State was a 10.90-point favorite by the Congrove Computer Rankings in Saturday night's game at Stephenville where the temperature during the game was in the high 20's but felt like 19. Congrove himself, in his preview article, picked Tarleton State to win outright.
The Cowboys, playing their first game under new head coach Frank Wilson, took a quick 10-0 lead in the first quarter but found themselves trailing 24-10 less than four minutes after halftime. McNeese State responded and trimmed the Texans' lead to 24-17, but Tarleton answered back on the ensuing possession to make it 31-17.
A McNeese State touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Cody Orgeron to Mason Pierce with 2:46 left in the game began the dramatic finish.
The Cowboys recovered the onside kick and drove to the Tarleton 18-yard line where they converted a 4th-and-3 with 54 seconds remaining on a 6-yard pass to Trevor Begue. Two plays later, Begue made a one-handed cradle catch in the end zone and the PAT tied the game to set up overtime.
The 'Pokes were held to a 21-yard field goal by Jacob Abel in the first OT possession for the Cowboys, and Adrian Guzman hit a 37-yard wobbler for the Texans to force the second extra period. Guzman would then add a 45-yarder to put Tarleton on top 37-34. McNeese needed just two rushes by Orgeron to claim victory a his 6-yard run set up his own 19-yard score.
For the game, Orgeron was 14-of-34 for 170 yards passing and 3 TD's. But he also ran for 108 yards and two scores.
Western Kentucky transfer QB Steven Duncan had a strong debut for Tarleton State, completing 22-of-39 for 217 yards and a TD, and Braelon Bridges had 112 yards rushing and 2 TD's on 15 carries.