The No. 21-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions took their eighth-straight win over the longtime-rival Texas A&M University-Kingsville Javelinas, using a dominant third quarter to run away with a 33-6 win on the road.
Since 1992, the matchup between the two teams has been the battle for the Chennault Cup, named for Lt. General Claire Chennault, a Commerce-born World War II-era hero who spent part of his life at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville. Following Saturday’s triumph, the Lions have now won the last eight Chennault Cups dating back to 2012, but still are behind with an 11-16 mark in Cup games and a 30-35-1 all-time record against A&M-Kinsgville.
The eighth-consecutive Cup win is also the longest streak in the history of the series between the two teams.
Smalls had a good night, going 14-of-20 through the air for 222 yards and three scores. Lealiiee had his best outing of the season, gaining 141 yards and scoring once on just 13 rushes. Carandal Hale came into the game in the fourth quarter and picked up 56 yards on seven carries. The Lions outgained A&M-Kingsville in total offense 470-233, despite running 18 fewer plays, for an average of just over nine yards per play.
For the second time this season, the Lion special teams blocked a kick. Darius Williams blocked an extra-point attempt, and it was returned the rest of the way by Alex Shillow for the rare defensive two-point conversion in the second quarter.
The win brings A&M-Commerce to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in Lone Star Conference play, while the Javelinas fall to 1-4 and 0-3 in the LSC. The Lions return home this weekend for one of their toughest tests of the season against Midwestern State.
All-time, A&M-Commerce holds a 13-11 record against the Mustangs, and grabbed the win in an instant classic in last year’s matchup.
In a game that began in Wichita Falls on Oct. 6, 2018 but ended in Denton on Oct. 7, the Lions triumphed 20-19 almost 21 hours after the game began. With the score tied 10-10 at halftime, the game was postponed due to lightning. Instead of a forfeit or reschedule, a vast undertaking was made to continue the game in a new location as the stadium was already occupied for Sunday.
A&M-Commerce won after a field goal from Midwestern’s Jaron Imbriani sailed wide right at the final horn.
It was just the second time since 2011 that the Lions had defeated the Mustangs.
Midwestern comes into the game with A&M-Commerce in an unusual hole, sporting a 3-2 overall record and a 1-2 mark in LSC play.
The Mustangs, who defeated Division I FCS opponent Northwestern State in the season opener, is riding a two-game losing streak, falling 28-6 to Angelo State two weeks ago and 27-24 to Eastern New Mexico last Saturday.
Midwestern has exhibited a stout defense, but have had trouble on offense, allowing just 19.4 points per game but scoring only an average of 21.
Quinton Childs has been strong on the ground, averaging 99.4 yards rushing across five games and scoring three touchdowns. Original starting quarterback Zach Purcell missed last week due to injury, but has accumulated 765 passing yards and five touchdowns without throwing a single interception. His backup Triston Williams, who started last week, has gone 22 of 44 for 275 yards, two scores and an interception in four appearances this season.
Melik Owens has been a stud on defense for Midwestern this year, with 10.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks in just four games played.
The game has the distinction of being broadcast on ESPN3, the online broadcasting arm of the sports giant. ESPN3 is available through many different cable and streaming providers, and is accessible through multiple devices such as phones, tablets, computers, smart tvs and more.
The Lions’ game against West Texas A&M on Nov. 2 will also be broadcast on the platform.
This marks the fifth season in a row that has seen A&M-Commerce football broadcast to a national audience.
The Lions will kick off against Midwestern State at 6 p.m. on Oct. 12 on Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium in Commerce.