By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
Texas A&M University-Commerce’s football team had to wait an additional week to play in the Live United Bowl in Texarkana, as the bowl was postponed due to the recent winter storm.
But that added time should simply help the Lions continue to prepare for one of the most potent rushing attacks in the nation.
Last week, head coach Colby Carthel, mentioned that he was grateful for the time off to prepare for Harding University.
“It’s like having a second spring ball,” he said. “That helps develop our young kids.”
The Live United Bowl was originally schedule to begin at noon on Dec. 7. The game has been moved to 6 p.m. on Dec. 13. This is the inaugural year for the Bowl, one of only three Division II college bowl games. Division II currently utilizes a playoff system to determine a champion, but Carthel said he thinks Division II should add more bowl games as well.
“I think there’s more than enough room to have 10-12 bowl games in Division II,” he said. “I don’t think it needs to be watered down to where your 6 win teams are going to bowl games like in Division I. But to only have 24 of 160+ teams experience postseason is unfortunate for the kids.”
The Lions will be bringing a high-powered offense to the game led by first team All-LSC wide receiver Vernon Johnson (69 receptions, 1,345 yards, 13 touchdowns). A&M-Commerce averages almost 38 points per game and 325 passing yards a contest.
The defense will be anchored by defensive lineman Charlie Tuaau (51 tackles, 12.5 sacks) and Tevin Moore (70 tackles, 12.5 sacks). They will look to stop a Bison rushing attack that averages 366 yards a game and scored 48 of the Bison’s 57 touchdowns.
“Option football is based on chewing up clock and scoring when they get an opportunity,” Carthel said. “And if you can create an turnover, that takes the ball out of their hands, and an option team’s best defense is a good offense.”
A&M-Commerce lost their last regular season game against Eastern New Mexico, a team that relied on ball control and running the football to win the game, 42-35. Harding University has a same philosophy, and they’re even better at executing it, according to Carthel.
“No disrespect to Eastern, but probably a little bit better at running the option,” he said last week. “Which is scary, because Eastern put up 42 on us. They are really, really good at running the option. They’re like the Georgia Tech of D-II. We’re going to have our hands full defensively.”
Lions fans have a block of room reserved at the Hampton Inn in Texarkana, Ark. The hotel is right next to the team hotel, and fans can receive the special rate by asking for the A&M-Commerce block.
Individuals can also ride on the fan bus that will leave commerce at 1 p.m. Friday from the Field House. Tickets are $40 and include game tickets and a tailgate meal. To reserve a ticket, call 903-886-5558.
The game is A&M-Commerce’s first postseason appearances since 1995 and their first bowl game since 1958.
Kickoff is a 6 p.m. at Razorback Stadium in Texarkana. For live radio coverage, tune in to 88.9 FM KETR or visit their website at www.ketr.org.