The Commerce Journal
Trailing by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, Texas A&M University-Commerce rallied to tie the game with eight seconds remaining, then held off Texas A&M University-Kingsville in overtime to notch an emotional 21-14 victory on a rainy night at Memorial Stadium. The Lions halted a four-game skid, improving to 1-3 on the year and 1-1 in Lone Star Conference play, and captured the Chennault Cup for the first time since 2001.
Quarterback Deric Davis led the Lions on the evening, completing 17-of-38 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions while rushing for the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter. On the evening, the Lions held the edge in passing yards, throwing for 214 compared to just 116 for the Javelinas.
Garrett Smith proved to be his favorite target, catching seven passes for 74 yards. Tevin Godfrey and Jamar Mosley each had three receptions and a touchdown on the night while Tyler Rawlings added two catches for 31 yards.
A&M-Commerce’s ground game continued to struggle as the Lions tallied just 62 yards on 37 carries on the night, led by 45 yards on 14 carries for Mosely. Wayne Chapman posted 22 yards on seven carries as well.
Defensively, Danny Mason had another huge game, notching 13 tackles, including five solo and a half a sack, with Joel Wren adding nine stops and Robert Wheeler finishing with eight tackles and an interception. Kristoddie Woods also had his best day in a Lion uniform, recording seven tackles for A&M-Commerce.
Steady rains throughout the day in Commerce made for a damp and slick Memorial Stadium turf all evening as both teams struggled to find their footing early in the game. A&M-Commerce and A&M-Kingsville exchanged punts for the entire first quarter and the majority of the second quarter until Wheeler picked off a Bryan Ehrlich pass with just under five minutes remaining in the second half, giving the Lions the ball in Javelina territory.
A&M-Commerce wasn’t able to do anything with the advantage and was forced to punt, pinning the Javelinas deep in their own their own territory. On A&M-Kingsville’s first play of the drive, Randall Toney coughed up the ball, the second of four turnovers on the night for the Javelinas, as Matt Claggett recovered at the A&M-Kingsville 16 yard line. Two plays later, Davis connected with Godfrey on a 16-yard lob into the endzone, giving A&M-Commerce it’s first lead of the 2012 season at 7-0, a lead the Lions would carry into halftime.
After holding the Javelinas on their first possession of the second half, A&M-Commerce got the ball back on its own 20 yard line. The break A&M-Kingsville was looking for happened on the next play as the snap went over Davis’ head and into the endzone, where it was recovered by the Javelinas to knot the game at 7-7 early in the third quarter.
The Lions would recover, driving deep into A&M-Kingsville territory midway through the third quarter as Jacob O’Neil looked to put A&M-Commerce back on top with a long 44-yard field goal attempt. The Javelina rush came from the far side as the attempt was blocked, keeping the game tied at 7-7 after three quarters.
Early in the fourth, the Javelinas finally notched an offensive touchdown as after getting the ball on the Lions’ 29-yard line, A&M-Kingsville needed just three plays to cover the 29 yards, capped by a 29-yard touchdown pass from Ehrlich to Robert Armstrong, giving the Javelinas the 14-7 lead with 11:18 remaining in the game.
After the Lions offense was unable to convert on its next possession, the Lion defense held strong, forcing A&M-Kingsville to punt on its next offensive possession and giving A&M-Commerce the ball back at its own 28-yard line with just under four minutes remaining on the clock.
Facing fourth and six in its own territory, Davis connected on an 11-yard pass to Blake Ohm for a Lion first down, which seemed to energize the A&M-Commerce offense as the Lions began to move its way down the field. With just under a minute left, Davis connected with Smith for a 26-yard pass down to the one yard line with 25 seconds remaining.
After three failed passes into the end zone, the Lions were once again faced with a fourth-down situation, only this time, Davis called his own number, eluded a pair of Javelina defenders and dove into the end zone with eight seconds remaining as the ensuing extra point tied the game at 14-14, sending the Chennault Cup showdown into overtime for the first time.
A&M-Kingsville won the toss in overtime, giving the Lions the ball first. Following a two-yard rush by Mosely, Davis connected with Rawlings for a 16-yard completion down to the Javelina seven-yard line. That completion seemed to be nullified as a fumble on the next play pushed A&M-Commerce back to the 16-yard line. But on the next play, Davis hit Mosley for touchdown strike, giving A&M-Commerce the 21-14 lead.
Now it was time for the Lion defense to make a stand, and they responded in a big way. Mason and Jake Williams combined for a nine-yard sack of Ehrlich on first down, followed by a pair of rushing plays which left A&M-Kingsville facing a fourth-and-eight on the Lion 23-yard line. A blitz from the far side by Cortney Craig forced an errant throw by Ehrlich, which fell harmlessly to the turf, as the Lions were able to raise the Chennault Cup on its home turf for the first time since the 1990 victory over West Alabama – the first year of the annual trophy game.
The win snapped a number of streaks the Lions are happy to get rid of. It snapped a four-game losing skid, dating back to last year, but even more important, it ended a 16-game losing streak against teams from the Lone Star state, marking the first victory over a team from Texas since defeating Angelo State on Sept. 6, 2008.
With a renewed momentum, A&M-Commerce now sets its sights on another Lone Star Conference opponent as the Lions will head back on the road to face Incarnate Word on, Oct. 6. The Cardinals fell to 14th-ranked Midwestern State 34-7 Saturday evening and are 1-4 on the year and 0-3 in LSC play. Opening kick against the Cardinals is set for 7 p.m. at Benson Stadium next Saturday.