The No. 20-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lion football team saw its perfect Lone Star Conference record slip away Saturday as they could not best the No. 4-ranked Tarleton State Texans, falling by a score of 35-21 in Stephenville.
The Texans scored the first 14 points of the contest, with Khalil Banks punching through on a two-yard scoring run, and cornerback Tre Johnson scooping up a loose ball, one that the Lions argued was a forward pass, and running 30 yards for a touchdown with less than half of the first quarter having gone by.
A&M-Commerce answered with a touchdown in the second frame, but Tarleton scored once more to regain the 14-point advantage. The game went to halftime with the Lions down 21-7.
A&M-Commerce seemed to have the momentum swing in their favor after Jemal Williams blocked a punt, giving the Lions the ball at their opponent's 14-yard line. After a loss of a few yards, quarterback Miklo Smalls found Kelan Smith for an 18-yard score to claw to within a touchdown.
However, any thoughts of a comeback were effectively squashed as the Texans scored 14 unanswered points to climb ahead 35-14 in the fourth quarter. Smalls connected with Matt Childers on a 19-yard scoring pass to close the gap slightly, but the team could not grab any more points and the game ended with the 35-21 Tarleton advantage.
Texans' quarterback Ben Holmes finished the game having completed 14 of 21 passes for 255 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also had 33 rushing yards on five attempts. Zimari Manning caught all three of Holmes' touchdown passes, finishing with seven catches for 131 yards. Daniel McCants led the team in rushing with 93 yards on 23 carries, while Banks ran the ball 19 times and picked up 78 yards and a score.
Smalls finished an efficient 29-of-39 for the Lions for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He was also the team's leading rusher, picking up 44 yards on 12 attempts. A&M-Commerce was held to just 64 total rushing yards on 24 carries. Dominique Ramsey had another good game as a kick returner, being kept out of the endzone but still featuring kick returns of 55 and 30 yards, as well as a 17-yard punt return. A&M-Commerce made five trips to the red zone but only scored on three of them, while the Texans scored on all three of their red zone attempts.
The all-time series between these two teams creeps closer to being even as A&M-Commerce holds a slim 15-14 advantage. The Texans have won the previous three matchups after losing the previous six.
The loss drops the Lions to 4-2 on the season and 3-1 in LSC play, while Tarleton improves to 7-0 and 5-0 in the LSC. A&M-Commerce returns home next week to face Western New Mexico on homecoming weekend, while the Texans will travel south to square off against Texas A&M University-Kingsville.