ARLINGTON, Texas -- Down 24-6 at halftime, No. 4 West Texas A&M roared back by outscoring No. 18 Chadron State 28-7 in the final two quarters for a thrilling 34-31 victory in the first game of the Lone Star Football Festival at AT&T Stadium on Thursday.

"This goes back to the character of the team and the culture that has been built here," West Texas A&M interim head coach Mike Nesbitt said. "Things just didn't go good for us early. These guys have been here a long time as seniors and the transfers we have gotten have come in here and have bought in and that really helped us in the third and fourth quarters. Our guys decided in the second half to push back and try and win it and they did a great job."

The Buffaloes (2-0) scored the final 18 points of the game in the fourth quarter to mount the thrilling comeback as Sergio Castillo Jr., kicked his career-high fourth field goal of the game with 49 seconds left to break a 31-31 tie.


Following the field goal, the West Texas A&M defense came up with the third interception of the game as defensive back Torian Oakley picked off Chadron State quarterback Jonn McLain with nine seconds left to seal the win.

The Buffaloes pulled even on a 19-yard pass from Dustin Vaughan to Aaron Harris and a 2-point conversion to Jace Jackson for a 31-31 tie with 6:36 remaining.

On the ensuing Chadron State (1-1) possession, linebacker Taylor McCuller came up an interception on fourth-and-4 at the West Texas A&M 34-yard line to set up the winning field goal.

McCuller had a game-high 17 tackles with 10 solo stops. It was his first career interception.

"We just settled down as we had been in this situation before and our senior leaders kept everyone together and not to panic, "McCuller said. "I felt like in the second half they had some doubt and were thinking about last year's game and we took advantage of that."

In a game that was a tale of two halves, the Buffs had eight first downs and 168 total yards in the first half, to 16 first downs and 275 total yards for Chadron State. The second half was much different as the Buffs finished with 23 first downs and 462 total yards and Chadron State had nine first downs the rest of the way and 464 total yards.

Vaughan threw another clean game as he was 29 of 41 for 353 yards and one touchdown, while Harris was the key offensively as he had his first 100-yard game on the ground in a Buffalo uniform on 17 carries for 103 yards and two scores. He also had four catches for 21 yards and a score. Torrence Allen and Jackson made huge catches all game -- each with eight as Allen had 124 yards and Jackson had 87 yards.

Chadron State (1-1) was led by Glen Clinton, who had 143 yards and a score on 24 carries, but he was held to just nine carries and 16 yards in the second half. Michael Madkins had seven carries for 89 yards. McLain was 28 of 40 with one touchdown and three picks.  Defensively, Lance Haller led the way with 15 tackles and nine solo stops.