The Commerce Tigers nearly grabbed a victory at the final horn but fell by a score of 28-23 to the Edgewood Bulldogs in non-district action Friday night at Edgewood’s James Memorial Stadium.
Now they move on to face the Leonard Tigers on the road on Friday.
The Tigers were down 28-23 in the final minute against Edgewood, and pulled off a final push to the endzone. First, a 14-yard strike from quarterback J'Den Wilson to Brandon Turner, then a 30-yard run by Wilson set the Tigers up at about the Bulldogs’ 30-yard line with just six seconds remaining.
Wilson heaved one final pass into the end zone. The ball headed for receiver Brad Caldwell, who outstretched his arms, but only could get fingertips on it due to stingy defense by Edgewood. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground, and the game was over. Edgewood had survived the Tiger onslaught by the skin of their teeth.
During the game, Wilson struggled through the air, completing just eight of his 25 passes for 74 yards and an interception, but added 50 yards on the ground on seven carries. Xzay Basham was a big play threat, scoring twice on the ground and amassing 150 yards on just eight rushes. Dayton Dunbar proved to be a strong ground option, gaining 71 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
While Commerce could not get the win, Head Coach Cody Farrell had high praise for his team following their performance.
“We were really so dang close,” Farrell said after Friday's game. “I’m proud of them, because at any point in the game, they were always in it to win this thing.”
“Winning is learned, and these guys got close to feeling that,” Farrell said.
The Commerce Journal caught up with Farrell on Tuesday, and he said that that there were too many dropped passes, and the team is still working out the kinks on the new offense.
“If we take care of our business I feel like this will be a fun team,” Farrell said. “The spread offense stresses opposing defenses out, so if we can capitalize on that then we are going to win some games.”
He added that he was pleased with the increase in effectiveness of the defense over last season, stating that they worked on their tackling this summer.
Farrell said that for the next game against Leonard, his team will have to watch promising sophomore quarterback DJ Brown.
“Their QB has great potential,” Farrell said. “We have to make sure that we keep an eye on him.”
Leonard won their first game against Wolfe City, taking a dramatic victory 28-26 in double-overtime. Commerce was slated to face the Tigers last season for homecoming, but the game was cancelled due to lightning. In their most recent matchup in 2017, Leonard came out on top 50-48 in overtime.
The only other matchup between these two teams in the the last decade came in 2016, where Leonard was victorious 48-14 on their home turf.
The next game against the Leonard Tigers will be held on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium, located at 505 East Mulberry Street in Leonard.