SAN ANTONIO —
Texas A&M University-Commerce’s first-ever game against a Division I FBS opponent is one that will be remembered for quite a while as the Lions gave UT-San Antonio a fight, rallying in the second half before falling to the Roadrunners 27-16 at the Alamodome.
“We played well at times, and I think we proved to ourselves a little bit that if we play the way we’re capable of, we can compete with anyone,” said head coach Guy Morriss. “We made some mistakes and that inconsistency is what cost us. We played much better in the second half, holding them to just three points. I think we did some things well today, so now we just have to improve on those moving forward.”
Quarterback Deric Davis completed 18 of 32 passes for 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Tyler Rawlings led the way for the Lions with six catches for 53 yards while also completing an 18-yard pass himself. Yardage-wise, Garrett Smith tallied 80 yards on three catches, including a 61-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Tevin Godfrey added five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown as well.
Once again, the Lions struggled on the ground, totaling just 16 yards on 22 carries. San Antonio native Jamar Mosley led A&M-Commerce with 12 yards on seven carries while Davis scrambled for nine yards on 11 attempts.
Defensively, Joel Wren led the way with 13 tackles, including five solo, while Danny Mason finished with nine, including a tackle for loss. J.T. Bates posted eight tackles at linebacker for A&M-Commerce while Matt Claggett and Robert Wheeler posted five.
In front of 30,416 loud and energetic fans at the Alamodome in the Roadrunner’s home opener, the Lions seemed to feed off the energy early. A&M-Commerce came up with a big defensive stand midway through the first quarter, shutting down UT-San Antonio inside the red zone on their opening drive and forcing a field goal.
After an A&M-Commerce three-and-out, UTSA responded with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that covered nearly seven minutes, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Roadrunners the 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Lion offense began to click late in the first as A&M-Commerce moved the ball deep into Roadrunner territory, setting up a first and goal at the eight-yard line. But the drive stalled just inside the five as Jacob O’Neil hit a 21-yard field goal to put A&M-Commerce on the board at 10-3 with 10:44 remaining in the half.
Both the Roadrunners and Lions exchanged three-and-outs on their next possessions, giving UT-San Antonio the ball on their own 29. The Roadrunners would make quick work, covering 71 yards in just seven plays to find the endzone once again and build their lead to 17-3 with 4:29 left in the second.
A&M-Commerce was looking to cut into that lead and carry some momentum into halftime, but Davis’ pass was intercepted by Franky Anaya and returned to the seven-yard line, where the Roadrunners would punch it in two plays later and take a commanding 24-3 lead into halftime.
The Roadrunners extended their advantage to 27-3 early in the third quarter, putting the Lions in a deep hole. But A&M-Commerce showed its resilience as after advancing to its own 39-yard line, Davis connected to a streaking Smith on the far sideline, who went the distance from 61-yards out. The extra point was botched, however, trimming the gap to 27-9.
The Lion defense forced another stop on UT-San Antonio, giving the ball back to A&M-Commerce at the Lion 45-yard line. Davis then proceeded to lead A&M-Commerce down the field, capped by a five-yard touchdown strike to Godfrey on the first play of the fourth quarter as the Lions pulled to within 11 at 27-16.
A&M-Commerce had its chances in the fourth quarter as well, recovering a Roadrunner fumble deep in Lion territory, but UT-San Antonio’s defense kept the A&M-Commerce offense at bay. The Roadrunners controlled the clock down the stretch, then sealed the victory with an interception late in the fourth quarter.
With somewhat of a moral victory behind them, A&M-Commerce will have a very short week as it now sets its sights on arguably its toughest game of the 2012 season.