NEVADA — Friday the 13th spelled bad luck for the Commerce High School Tiger football team as they fell 48-17 against the Community Braves Friday night in non-district action.
The game pitted 3A Commerce (1-1) vs 4A Community (1-1). The Braves were celebrating their homecoming night and it was standing room only at Braves Field in Nevada.
The contest started out strong, and it seemed like there would be plenty of offensive fireworks from both squads. Commerce struck first on a 22-yard scamper by Xzay Basham just 75 seconds into the game. But Community answered right back with a score of their own as junior running back Tyson Neighbors ran the ball in from four yards out just 55 seconds later.
Another touchdown was added by both teams, again within the same minute of each other. The Tigers looked to take the lead once again, but a touchdown run by Basham late in the first quarter was called back by a holding penalty, and Commerce failed to score on the drive after stalling out and turning the ball over on downs. This would mark a turn of fortune for Commerce as the quarter ended with a 14-14 tie.
The Braves scored just over a minute into the second quarter to take the lead for the first time, and never looked back. Another touchdown midway through the frame added to the advantage, and as the horn sounded for halftime, Commerce was down 28-14.
For any Tiger fans hoping that a turnaround was coming, what happened next sullied that thought as Community scored on their opening drive of the second half, putting 28 unanswered points on the board and the Tigers down by three touchdowns. The once-potent offense of Commerce was not getting the yards that had come much easier earlier in the game. The Tigers were gifted a golden opportunity to swing the momentum in their favor after Neighbors fumbled at the end of a 55-yard run right before the goal line, giving Commerce new life as they started the drive deep in their own territory.
However this drive could not yield a touchdown after a valiant march down the field, as the Tigers had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Edgar Castillo with less than 10 seconds left in the quarter. These would be the last points Commerce would put on the board as they ended the third frame down 35-17.
The Braves would run up the score with two more touchdowns as they wowed their home crowd on homecoming night. The final eight minutes of the contest whizzed by as both teams ran the ball and the 48-17 loss was sealed for the Commerce.
Community outgained the Tigers in total offensive yards 478 to 266 on the night.
The Braves were led offensively by junior running back Neighbors, who seemed to take a gaggle of Tiger defenders to bring him down on every play. Neighbors finished with 225 yards and four touchdowns on the ground on 19 carries, however he did lose one fumble as the only turnover of the game. Quarterback Parker Simpson completed eight of 15 passes for 99 yards and two scores, while running for 66 yards on nine rushes. Simpson’s favorite target was Ty Simpkins, who caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Zach WInans added 57 yards and a rushing touchdown on nine carries.
Commerce quarterback J’Den Wilson improved his efficiency for the second week in a row, completing nine of 13 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown. He had a tough night on the ground, picking up just 17 yards on 7 attempts. Basham was the primary weapon on offense for the Tigers, gaining 87 yards and scoring once on 13 rushes. Six different receivers caught a pass for the Tigers, with Brad Caldwell leading the team with three catches for 35 yards. Cason Oates caught one pass for a 21-yard score.
Commerce Head Coach Cody Farrell was candid following the game.
“We just ran into a good football team,” Farrell said. “I told the guys after the game that this doesn’t mean we are not a good team, we just played a group with great size and depth and they outplayed us tonight.”
Farrell said that he still thinks good things are on the horizon with the development of his young team.
“We still haven’t unleashed J’Den yet,” Farrell said, referring to his junior quarterback. “We still have some learning to do and we will be a team to reckon with when district comes around.”
The coach added that playing a larger school like Community helps prepare the team for district games against Bonham and Emory, two schools that recently dropped down from 4A but still have a larger pool of players to work with.
The loss drops Commerce down to 1-2 while Community improves to 2-1. The Tigers will finally get their first home game of the season as they face Kemp on homecoming night next Friday, while the Braves move on to play Life Waxahachie on the road next week.