The Homecoming crowd left Memorial Stadium happy as the No. 23-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lion football team trounced the visiting Western New Mexico University Mustangs by a score of 62-21 Saturday evening.
This was the fourth win in four tries for A&M-Commerce against WNMU.
Halftime featured the crowning of the Homecoming King and Queen, with Steven Lim and Meagan Hendricks being named King and Queen.
The Lions wasted no time getting on the board, taking their first drive 76 yards down the field on seven plays for a 21-yard touchdown pass from Miklo Smalls to Ryan Stokes. But what was a hot start for A&M-Commerce cooled off significantly after Smalls had a pass intercepted by Troy Hall. This set the Mustangs up in enemy territory, and they ended up tying the game with a 14-yard strike from C.J. Fowler to Reggie Colson III.
However, any notion that this would be a closely contested game soon flew out the window, which began with Dominique Ramsey returning the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, evading several tacklers along the way for his first career kickoff return touchdown and the sixth overall return touchdown of his career for the All-American.
The Lions successful extra point streak, which had reached an NCAA Division II-record 129 successful kicks, sadly ended on the following PAT as Jake Viquez’ kick plunked the right upright and was no good.
A&M-Commerce never looked back from that point on, and held a 13-7 lead after one quarter.
The Lion defense bent but didn’t break, stifling any scoring chances for Western New Mexico, while the offense put in work. Two more scores in the second quarter put the home team on top 27-7.
A&M-Commerce got on the board once again in the third quarter on the team’s opening drive, and following some prime field position following a botched Mustang punt added another score when Antonio Lealiiee punched in his second rushing touchdown of the day soon after.
This marked 33 unanswered points for the Lions until Western New Mexico finally scored in the third quarter on a 56 yard pass from Fowler to Josh Powell.
The offense slowed down for the rest of the frame, and A&M-Commerce entered the final quarter up 41-14.
With backups starting to enter the game the Lion attack didn’t slow down, as three different running backs scored in the final frame. A touchdown was added by the Mustangs, but it was not near enough as A&M-Commerce cruised to a 62-21 victory.
Fowler had a solid game for Western New Mexico, statistically speaking, as he completed 17 of 34 passes for 315 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. However, he was sacked a whopping six times by the Lion defense. Powell was by far his favorite target, racking up 214 receiving yards and a score on seven catches. DeAndre Williams led the team with 70 yards on the ground on 15 carries.
Smalls was hot and cold at times for the Lions. he completed 18 of 28 throws for 282 yards and three touchdowns, but also tossed up two picks, and a third that was called back on a penalty. He also ran the ball three times for 17 yards. Lealiiee had a strong game, gaining 133 yards and scoring twice on 17 rushing attempts. Chris McPhaul came into the game late and finished with 66 yards and a touchdown on just four rushes. Jaquorious Smith also scored in the fourth quarter on a lone run of 19 yards. Jemal Williams scored both on the ground and through the air, finishing with 23 rushing yards on five carries and catching a lone pass for a 36-yard score. In total, A&M-Commerce defenders sacked Mustang quarterbacks seven times, with Neema Behbahani leading the way with 1.5 sacks.
A&M-Commerce Head Coach David Bailiff had high praise for his team following the victory Saturday.
“It was a big win. Our guys played extremely hard,” Bailiff said. “I thought our team rebounded well from last week. We had some individuals tonight that were just absolutely electrifying.”
Ramsey said that it took a lot of effort from the team to clear the way on his first career kickoff return touchdown.
“I saw a lot of effort from our guys trying to block” Ramsey said. “I looked to my left and saw a hole and new I had to take it. My guys led me into the end zone.”
The win improves the Lions’ record to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in Lone Star Conference play, while Western New Mexico falls to 1-7 overall and 1-4 in the LSC.