MARSHALL — Another feverish rally came up just short for the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets, who suffered their fifth consecutive American Southwest Conference loss, 41-35 to the East Texas Baptist Tigers here Saturday afternoon.
Howard Payne (2-5, 1-5) scored first, but spotted East Texas Baptist (4-3, 4-2) the next three touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets were forced into catch up mode. Trailing 28-14 at halftime, Howard Payne on three occasions reduced the deficit to a touchdown, but couldn't get over the hump.
East Texas Baptist finished with 513 yards of total offense — 281 passing and 232 rushing — while Howard Payne generated 336 yards — 202 through the air and 134 on the ground. Neither team committed a turnover.
Brian Baca completed 17 of 28 passes for 232 yards and two scoring tosses for the Tigers, as Tariq Gray led the way with five receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown while Jeremiah Robertson finished with three receptions for 44 yards and a trip to the end zone. Robertson also rushed for a game-high 169 yards with two more touchdowns, Justin Ward added 73 yards and a score and Keyshoyn Alexander finished with 45 yards and a touchdown.
For Howard Payne, McGwire Martin went the distance at quarterback, completing 15 of 27 attempts for 134 yards and a touchdown to Jake Parker, who led all Yellow Jackets with six grabs for 65 yards. Eric Haverstock chipped in three catches for 38 yards and DunTayviun Gross added three grabs for 31 yards. On the ground, Martin led the charge with 136 yards on 16 carries while Billy Reagins rushed for four touchdowns and 43 yards on 11 attempts.
Defensively for the Yellow Jackets, Austin Killgore notched 13 tackles trailed by seven each from Zeno Barnum and James Jakubowski, and five apiece from Jarret Brown and Mykai Pertile.
Howard Payne scored on its first possession of the game as a 5-yard carry from Reagins at 12:29 of the first period put the Yellow Jackets in front, 7-0.
ETBU responded with a 12-yard touchdown run by Robertson, a 39-yard scoring toss from Baca to Robertson, and a 52-yard scoring sprint by Ward to open a 21-7 advantage with 11:39 left in the first half.
Reagins scored his second touchdown from 5 yards out with 2:22 left in the first half as Howard Payne crept within 21-14. ETBU answered with 14 seconds left in the half as Baca connected with Gray on a 1-yard scoring toss, and the Yellow Jackets trailed 28-14 at intermission.
The teams traded touchdowns throughout the second half as Martin's 9-yard touchdown to Parker at 7:30 of the third period made the score 28-21. ETBU followed with a 7-yard touchdown carry from Alexander to stretch the lead to 34-21 at 4:37 of the third.
Another 5-yard touchdown run from Reagins with 13:57 left brought Howard Payne within 34-28, but the Tigers answered just 40 seconds later on a 55-yard scamper by Robertson, boosting the advantage to 41-28.
Reagins scored on a 1-yard plunge for the Yellow Jackets with 3:25 remaining, trimming the deficit to 41-35, but Howard Payne was unable to regain possession again the rest of the contest.
The Yellow Jackets are back in action at 4 p.m. Saturday as they host Sul Ross (3-3, 3-2), which squared off with Texas Lutheran Saturday night, for homecoming.