Following a 44-13 victory in their regular-season home finale against the UT Permian Basin Falcons last weekend, the No. 23-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lion football team will fight for a playoff spot against Angelo State on Saturday.
The Lions' win last weekend was the fourth victory in four all-time matches against the Falcons.
Clayton Roberts had a rough game for the Falcons, completing 12 of 31 passes for 142 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He also ran five times for 24 yards. Davion Sutton was his team’s leading rusher, picking up 44 yards on 20 carries.
Miklo Smalls was solid for A&M-Commerce Saturday night, completing 21 of 33 throws for 282 yards and two scores while also running 11 times for 73 yards. Matt Childers had three catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. Jemal Williams, who is on the depth chart as the fifth-string running back, has been called into action due to the many injuries on the team. The sophomore from Inglewood, Calif. began the season as a linebacker, but has taken to the new role on offense, picking up 103 yards and two touchdowns on 18 rushes. Kader Kohou and Jalon Edwards-Cooper had a pair of interceptions.
The win improved the Lions to 7-2 on the season and 6-1 in Lone Star Conference play, while the Falcons fell to 3-7 and 1-6 in the LSC.
Now the matchup between A&M-Commerce and the Angelo State Rams could decide who is in and who is out of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
The teams come into the game both ranked in the top 10 in NCAA Super Region 4, with that Lions sixth and the Rams seventh. Only the top seven teams from each Super Region make the postseason.
Angelo State comes into the game with a record of 8-2 and a 5-2 mark in the Lone Star Conference. The Rams were ranked No. 21 in the national rankings last week, but were upset 20-17 by Eastern New Mexico, which dropped them down in the rankings. The loss also dropped the team from No. 5 to No. 7 in the region rankings, the final playoff spot.
The Rams has featured a potent offense and a suffocating defense, scoring an average of 36.9 points per game while allowing just 14.6, which is tied for the seventh-best scoring defense in the nation. The team is quarterbacked by senior Payne Sullins, who has completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,357 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Lloyd Howard is the team's leading rusher, gaining 546 yards and scoring five touchdowns on 108 carries, while Daven Manning has a team-high six rushing scores and 385 yards on 96 rushes.
Darrick Dickers has been stout on defense for Angelo State, with 49 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, four sacks and two interceptions. Devin Washington is tied for sixth in the nation with seven interceptions.
This game will be the 51st overall meeting between the Lions and Rams, with Angelo State leading the all-time series 27-21-2. However, A&M-Commerce has won the last five meetings.
The A&M-Commerce Lions will square off with the Angelo State Rams on Nov. 16 at LeGrand Stadium in San Angelo, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.