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Season considered good start for new era

Football: Team’s 24 seniors honored before final game

By Jason Helms
On November 17, 2011

  • Senior running back Tristan Carter eludes a tackle in the last game of the season last Saturday. Carter rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Pam Belcher

The Rams' season did not end the way they wanted to Saturday after a 28-23 loss to Tarleton State.

Despite leading in almost every statistical category, including total offensive yards, the Rams (5-6, 2-6 LSC) came up short on the scoreboard.

"We had a few costly penalties and gave up some big plays," head coach Will Wagner said. "When you play against a team as good as Tarleton, you can't do that."

The Rams outgained the Texans 472 to 396 with the help of quarterbacks Jake Strickler and Michael Cochran who combined for 291 yards passing.

Strickler, a senior who took over midway through the season for injured sophomore Blake Hamblin, went 14-for-28 with a touchdown while also rushing for 15 yards.

Cochran completed 13 of 21 passes for 141 yards, which was a career high for the junior from Cedar Park, Texas.

The Rams also outgained the Texans (6-5, 5-3 LSC) on the ground with 181 yards, as most of that came from senior running back Tristan Carter, who had 145 yards on 19 carries.

Carter averaged 7.6 yards per carry and also added a pair of touchdowns to finish his final season with the program with 11, six more than last season's total.

Carter also served as an aerial target as he recorded a season-high six catches for 47 yards.

Another senior, tight end Nate Bayless, caught Strickler's lone touchdown pass of the game and finished with three receptions for 63 yards.

However, it was junior receiver C.J. Akins who led the Rams' receiving efforts with six catches for 75 yards.

The Rams' defense managed to hold the Texans to just nine yards rushing in the game, led by redshirt freshman linebacker Rush Seaver, who had 10 tackles.

It was the second time that Seaver, a Lampasas native, tallied double-digit tackles this season.

Seaver's fellow linebacker, senior Joseph Schumpert, finished the game with eight tackles, one of which was for a loss.

The team's 24 seniors were honored on the field with their families and friends before the game.

Bayless said although it was tough to end his senior season with a losing record, he thought the team met a lot of the goals they set before the season.

"For setting this team up to where it needs to be and where it's going in the future, we made a good start," Bayless said. "You can't always determine the success of a season by wins and losses, so I don't consider this season a failure at all," he said.

Wagner, who Bayless said is the right guy to get the program back to a winning tradition, agreed with the his senior.

"The season was not exacly what we wanted to be, but it was definitely a stepping block and I expect bigger and better things come next season," the first-year head coach said.

The Rams finished in sixth place in the LSC ahead of Incarnate Word, Eastern New Mexico and Texas A&M - Commerce.

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