Hardin-Simmons Sports Information
For Immediate Release: 9.3.2011
Contact: Chad Grubbs, (325) 670-1473
Burleson Wins Debut As Cowboys Roll
ABILENE, Texas — It may have been the first game of the Jesse Burleson era, but it was two veterans that stole the show as Taylor Byrd threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns and Travis Tatsch set the school's record for receiving yards in a game with 13 catches for 265 yards and two touchdowns as No. 16 Hardin-Simmons rolled over No. 10 Coe College (Iowa), 41-14, in the season opener at Shelton Stadium.
"We came out and played hard," said Burleson. "It was exciting to see our guys have their hard work pay off. They have been so committed from the end of last season to now."
"That was a good football team we beat, they were big and physical and I thought our guys played great. Taylor Byrd was phenomenal and Tatsch, what can you say? Perseverance pays off. Those guys were amazing and the defense had a lot of great things to. I was really pleased with all three phases."
After Coe took the opening drive and went 75 yards in 13 plays with Brendan Leiran scoring from six yards out and Hardin-Simmons answered with a 10-paly, 58-yard drive that was capped by a Steven Rockwell 8-yard touchdown run, it looked like the game was set to be an offensive slugfest.
However, the Cowboy defense stiffened up and allowed just 217 yards the rest of the day. HSU allowed just 292 yards and limited preseason first-team all-American Brad Boyle to 11-of-30 for 114 yards and intercepted him three times. HSU had 548 yards of total offense.
In the meantime, Byrd was on point in his first start since 2009. He completed 10 of his first 11 passes, and the incompletion was a throwaway. He led the Cowboys on touchdown drives the first three drives of the game. His second drive went 11 plays and 79 yards and Rockwell caught a 2-yard pass from Byrd to cap it off.
On the next series, Byrd made a check at the line and found his main target Tatsch in single-coverage. Tatsch caught the ball at around the 45 and broke a tackle and sprinted for an 89-yard touchdown to make it 21-7 with 11:57 to play in the second quarter. Scott Newberry made it 24-7 with a 34-yard field goal right before halftime.
Tatsch set the school record early in the third quarter when he scored on a 31-yard TD from Byrd to start the second half. It was his final catch of the day, as the Cowboys were able to play a lot of players in the second half. The old record was 247 set by Barry Donham in 1999 at Mississippi College.
The Cowboys added a 30-yard Newberry field goal on the final play of the third quarter to make it 34-7. Each team scored in the fourth. Leiran had a 4-yard TD run and Devin Carver had a six-yard TD run to cap the scoring with :58 to play.
Byrd finished the day 23-of-31 for 326 yards and three touchdowns. Steven Rockwell had 14 carries for 97 yards and the defense was led by a couple of first-team starters. Safety Jonathan Petty and freshman middle linebacker Chad Laughlin each had eight tackles. Caleb Christian had seven tackles and an interception and Lee Grounds added two interceptions.
HSU will hit the road for a game at Willamette next weekend in Salem, Ore. The game is set for a 3:30 CST kickoff and can be heard on www.hsuathletics.com and 100.7 FM in Abilene.
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