East Central University’s ‘Cinderella’ football season ended on a sour note Saturday as the 19th-ranked West Texas A&M Buffaloes bowled over the Tigers 52-21 in a Lone Star Conference football clash at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers, who ended the season at 5-6 overall and captured a share of the LSC North title last week in a last-second win over Texas A&M-Commerce, spotted the Buffaloes a 28-0 advantage on Saturday and didn’t get on the scoreboard until the opening drive of the third quarter.
ECU junior quarterback Tyler Vanderzee hooked up with sophomore Cleotha Euwins on touchdown passes of 16 and 38 yards for two of the Tiger scores. The other ECU score came via defense as sophomore end Armonty Bryant sacked Buff backup quarterback Dustin Vaughan for a 6-yard loss. In the process, the ball was jarred loose and Tyler McGrew picked up the ball and returned it 67 yards for a TD.
West Texas A&M starting quarterback Taylor Harris, a Harlon Hill trophy candidate, completed 43-of-65 passes for 572 yards and five touchdowns – two each to Jay Tillman for eight and 14 yards and a pair to Stephen Burton for 20 and seven yards. Brittan Golden also hauled in a 36-yard scoring pass from Harris.
Tillman also had a 2-yard scoring run and Tommy Hampton scored from four yards out for the Buffs, who also got a 40-yard field goal from Sergio Castillo.
The Buffs piled up 735 yards of total, 605 of which came through the air. The Tigers finished with 297 in which 247 came through the airways.
Vanderzee was 18-of-34 passing for 207 yards with the two touchdowns and one interception. Euwins and Zack Patteson each had four receptions. Euwins collected 94 yards with the two scores and Patteson accumulated 80 yards. Chris Espinoza and Tyra Waits each had three catches for 21 yards.
Justin Todd — an Ada High graduate — had 29 yards on nine carries as ECU netted just 50 yards.
Burton finished with 14 catches for 132 yards and the two touchdowns while Tyson Williams made 12 grabs for 203 yards. Two of the three receptions for Tillman went for scores as he finished with 29 yards.
Defensively for the Tigers, the LSC sacks leader Bryant recorded two more on Saturday for losses of 19 yards to go with his forced fumble and six total tackles (three solo). Senior linebacker Ryan Madison, also recorded a sack as two of his four total tackles went for lost yardage to go with a quarterback hurry.
Markell Walker and Austin Daniels topped ECU’s tackle chart with 13 and 12 respectively. One of Walker’s stops went for a 1-yard loss and Daniels recorded one for minus five. Each broke up one pass. Five of Walker’s tackles were solo efforts and seven of Daniels’ stops were unassisted. Reuben Tiller was also credited with 10 tackles (six solo) with a QB hurry.
WT’s Simi Kuli compiled seven tackles (six unassisted) with three stops for minus 10 yards and a forced fumble. Lawrence Hood and Dwight Morrison each picked off a pass for the Buffs.