It was a long time coming.
Texas College rediscovered its offense and won its first homecoming game in five years, beating Concordia-Selma (Ala.) 31-20 on Saturday.
Freshman quarterback Milton Harper helped ignite the ssteers with 237 yards passing the and the defense recorded seven sacks and five first-half turnovers in the Steers' home finale at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
Gilmer native Luis Castro contributed 2 ﾽ sacks to spark the Steers' stop unit.
"The defense played as a whole flying to the ball, and we played as a team," Castro said. "It was homecoming. It's been a long time. We had a statement to prove."
The Steers (2-7) snapped a three-game losing skid to the Hornets, but not without a fight, literally. Tempers flared near the end of the game, with a scuffle breaking out the first play after TC shifted into victory formation. Concordia-Selma delayed the outcome by using all its timeouts with the game already decided. A melee ensued during postgame handshakes between the two teams.
Concordia-Selma (5-3) endured a mid-season coaching change recently, that after opening the season with a win over NCAA Divsion I Mississippi Valley State.
"It was a great day (even though the ending was) a little frustrating," TC head coach George Cumby said. "It's something about Concrodia and TC that just seems to (result in) a conflict. I thought we would get through the handshake and I almost didn't (have it) because of our past history."
The Steers defense, who were allowing 11 points per game in conference play before taking on thte NAIA independent, continued its strong play. The Steers intercepted three passes, the highlight a 35-yard return for a TD by Edward Washington in the second quarter. Other Steers with takeaways included William Davis (fumble recovery), Ronnie Green (fumble recovery), Kamal Mackvaughn (interception) and Norman Thompson (interception).
TC scored more points in the first half than the previous three games combined. With starting quarterback Vincent McNeil in a jersey and blue jeans, Harper handled most of the snaps under center.
Johnny Thomas tallied four receptions for a game-high 118 yards for the Steers. Harper rushed for a 5-yard TD in the third quarter to give TC a commanding 31-6 lead.
"Right away we wanted to put it together," Cumby said. "We wanted to make sure we kept our freshman quarterback safe. Once he got his rhythm, we were on our way. The offense really played well. Defense came back and made some plays, scoring as well."
Concordia cut into the lead with a pair of fourth quarter scores, Keith Ray's 6-yard TD pass to Jimmy Martin, and a recovered blocked punt in the end zone. Concordia centered its offense around the feet of Ray, who rushed for 61 yards on mainly srambles, and passed for 238 more.
The Steers spent most of the first half near the red zone. The Steers started fast, going 61 yards in eight plays on the opening drive, capped by Harper's 5-yard TD pass to Ja'Marius Allen on a slant for an early 7-0 lead.
TC turned its first of five takeaways in the opening half into points two mintues later, going ahead 10-0 on Houston Creighton's 23-yard field goal
The defense set up the next two scores, the first on Washington's return. With the half winding down, the Steers stopped the Hornets on fourth-and-1 from the Concordia 25. Two plays later, Charles Jackson squirted upfield for an 8-yard TD run and a 24-0 advantage.
The Steers squandered three golden opportunities, losing fumbles at the Concordia 20, the Concordia 4, and missing a 26-yard field goal.
Concordia gained 93 yards against a stiff TC defense in the first half. The Steers hit the road next week to face McMurry State in Abiline.
"We needed this game for the rest of this season," added Cumby. "This is going to help finish the next two games."
Texas College 31, Concordia-Selma (Ala.) 20
At Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium
Concordia-Selma 0 0 6 14 — 20
Texas College 10 14 7 0 — 31
TEX—Ja'Marius Allen 5 pass from Milton Harper (Houston Creighton kick), 11:33
TEX—FG Creighton 23, 9:31
TEX—Edward Washington 35 interception return (Creighton kick), 14:49
TEX—Charles Jackson 8 run (Creighton kick), 5:28
CON—Patrick Austin 23 pass from Keith Ray (kick failed), 12:38
TEX—Harper 5 run (Creighton kick), 4:25
CON—Jimmy Martin 6 pass from Ray (pass failed), 14:52
CON—Blocked punt recovered in end zone by Evans YoYo (Terrell Edwards-May pass from Ray), 2:25
EST. ATT. —1,200.
First Downs 22 14
Rushes-Yards 39-80 33-49
Passing Yards 278 237
Comp.-Att.-Int. 21-41-3 12-27-1
Punts-Avg. 3-28.0 4-25.5
Penalties-Yards 13-106 8-47
RUSHING—Concordia-Selma, Keith Ray 20-61, Ronday McClain 9-12, Charles Young 8-10, Terrell Edwards May 2-(-3). Texas College, Kevan Hall 5-24, Ja'Marius Allen 3-21, Akedio Sharp 5-17, Eric Moore 6-9, Charles Jackson 1-8, Marques Thompson 1-1, Milton Harper 6-(-14), Aaron Washington 6-(-17).
PASSING—Concordia-Selma, Ray 18-29-2—238, Young 2-9-1—30, Cameron Mayfield 1-3-0—10. Texas College, Harper 12-27-1—237.
RECEIVING—Concordia-Selma, Cleveland Andrew 5-52, Jonathan Coachman 4-54, David Hampton 3-45, Quantas Horne 2-49, Patrick Austin 2-33, Jeremy Morris 2-20, Richard Sanders 1-11, McClain 1-8, Jimmy Martin 1-6. Texas College, Johnny Thomas 4-118, Allen 3-38, Kevan Hall 3-32, Jamaal Johnson 1-39, Moore 1-10.