ACU defenders sacked Tarleton State quarterback Nick Stephens on two of the game's first three plays, then partially blocked a punt on the next play. The Wildcats' great field position – inside the TSU 40-yard line – led to an opening score when quarterback Mitchell Gale tossed a 3-yard pass to freshman fullback Daniel Talavera in the left end zone. Morgan Lineberry's PAT was good, and ACU led, 7-0 with 8:13 left in the first quarter.
Steven Covey was back at it again on the ensuing kickoff, putting the ball in the end zone where the Texans could not return it. ACU led the nation last year in touchbacks, and technically, only took one play to regain that spot.
As stingy as ACU's defense was on the opening series, it was just as porous on the second. TSU moved down the field easily, but Jose Serrano missed a 34-yard field goal when the drive stalled.
Another long drive led to TSU running back Brandon Lowery running 5 yards for a TD with 27 seconds left in the first quarter. Serrano's PAT attempt was good, tying the game at 7-7.