KINGSVILLE - Of the 527 total yards of offense racked up by Tarleton Saturday night, seniors Daniel McCants and Zimari Manning accounted for 393 and all six touchdowns as the Texans improved to 8-0 with a 45-33 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville.
"Kingsville has some really good players and they were ready to play," said head coach Todd Whitten. "We made a lot of mistakes, but any time you go on the road and get their best shot - and we didn't have our best shot - and you're able to get out with a win, that speaks well for our program and where we are. We're very blessed to get a win tonight."
McCants and Manning each etched their name among the best in Tarleton history - one in a single game setting and the other in the all-time career ranks.
McCants, a senior running back from Killeen, became the seventh player (13th time) in program history to rush for over 200 yards in a single game and just the third player (fourth time) in program history to reach the 250-yard plateau in a single game. He joins only Derrick Ross (269; 260) and Jerome Regal (251) with performances of at least 250 yards, in which he had only 15 carries for the game.
He also found the end zone four times, which is also a career high for him. He became the eighth player in school history to have four non-passing scores in a single contest and the first since Xavier Turner did it against Kingsville on Oct. 20, 2018.
Meanwhile, Manning was doing damage through the air.
The senior wideout hauled in four passes for 143 yards and a pair of touchdowns to throw his name in the middle of two of the greatest wide receivers to ever don the purple and white - LeNard Meyers and Devin Guinn.
With his 143-yard performance, he tied Meyers and Guinn - both four-year lettermen - with 10 games of at least 100 receiving yards in his career. He also moved into a second-place tie for the most receiving touchdowns in Tarleton history (26) with Guinn. He is one shy of the all-time record (27), held by Meyers.
Manning's first strike of the night came on the second play from scrimmage when Ben Holmes found the senior on the backside of the Javelina defense for a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Texans their first lead of the night at 7-3.
After Kingsville scored to take a 10-7 lead, Daniel McCants punched right back by taking the next offensive play 59 yards to the house for a 14-10 lead.
Ronnell Wilson picked off Koy Detmer Jr. on the ensuing Kingsville possession to set up a 21-yard field goal from Christian Hernandez. Then after another stop, Tarleton pulled away with its third straight scoring drive on McCants' second touchdown scamper of the night - a 19-yard run for a 23-10 lead.
The Javelinas cut the lead to 24-13 at halftime, but Tarleton came out of the break and got two more touchdown runs from McCants and a 77-yard strike from Holmes to Manning to keep Kingsville at bay and win their eighth straight game this season. Dating back to last season, the Texans have won 20 of their last 21 games.
Holmes guided the offense with 251 yards passing on 14-25 with a pair of touchdowns. In addition to Manning's 4-143 through the air, Holmes connected with J.F. Thomas (2-48), DeShun Qualls (3-23), Cam Lewis (4-19) and Tommy McDonald (1-18) through the air.
McCants paced the rushing attack while Ryheem Skinner (7-28), McDonald (3-9), and Holmes (2-10) combined for 12 more carries.
Defensively, Tarleton was led by Prince Robinson with 10 tackles while Tre Johnson, Ryan Payne and Jai Edwards had seven tackles each in a game that saw the secondary get plenty of work with Kingsville's offense airing it out 65 times to just 26 rushes.