The No. 20-ranked Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions grabbed a rare blowout of the Midwestern State Mustangs in a 54-28 victory at home Saturday.
Six of the previous seven matchups between these two teams had been decided by a single score. Saturday’s win also marked the first time that the Lions had defeated the Mustangs in back to back seasons since 2000, when A&M-Commerce had won the first 10 all-time matchups against Midwestern.
The game was broadcast nationally on ESPN3 as the NCAA Division II Showcase, marking the fifth-consecutive season where Lion football has been on a national broadcast.
Saturday’s contest also marked a national record for the Lions. With the combined efforts of current A&M-Commerce kicker Jake Viquez and former Lion legend Kristov Martinez, the boys in blue and gold now hold the NCAA Division II record for most consecutive point-after-attempts converted, successfully knocking through 125 extra points in a row since Sept. 16, 2017 against Eastern New Mexico. The previous record was held by Liberty University, which converted 123 consecutive PATs from 1976 to 1983.
Mustang quarterback Triston Williams had flashes of brilliance for the Mustangs but ultimately was stymied on the night. He completed 19 out of 40 passes for 306 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Tyrique Edwards caught five balls for 89 yards. Quinton Childs led his squad with 68 rushing yards and a score on 17 carries. Lazarus Fisher picked up 37 yards on seven rushes.
Miklo Smalls had another efficient night for the Lions, going 19-of-27 with 186 yards, five touchdowns and no picks. He also ran five times for 24 yards. Antonio Lealiiee had a big game, picking up 169 yards on 18 carries, but did not find the end zone. Carandal Hale and Spencer Long both had five carries and a touchdown, with Hale gaining 16 yards and Long 15. All-American returner Dominique Ramsey had a big night, intercepting two passes on defense, rushing once for 15 yards, catching a pass for eight yards, a longest punt return of 31 yards and a longest kick return of 65 yards.
A&M-Commerce Head Coach David Bailiff said that he was very pleased with his team’s performance Saturday.
“I’m just so proud of this football team” Bailiff said. “Special teams played well, and what a great performance from several guys on offense.”
Bailiff praised the performances of players like Ramsey, who was all over the field.
“What a total game he had on offense, defense and special teams,” Bailiff said. “Those guys are rare.”
He added that the team will “enjoy this one tonight, but we’ve got a monster ahead of us in Tarleton.”
The win brings the Lions to 4-1 overall on the season and 3-0 in Lone Star Conference play, while the Mustangs fall to 3-3 and 1-3 in the LSC. A&M-Commerce has probably their biggest test of the year next weekend on the road against No. 4 Tarleton State.
The Texans have been the class of the LSC this year, cruising to a 6-0 overall record, which includes a victory over former Lion Head Coach Colby Carthel and Stephen F. Austin University, an FCS-level school. Tarleton’s smallest margin of victory against NCAA Division II opponents this season has been 17 points.
The Texans have been averaging more than 46 points per game on offense, and the team’s defense has smothered opponents to the tune of just 14.5 points allowed per game.
Daniel McCants and Khalil Banks have been almost unstoppable on the ground, rushing for 675 and 461 yards and seven and eight touchdowns, respectively. Senior QB Ben Holmes has thrown for 1,546 yards, 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions all season.
Defensively, the Texans have 64 tackles-for-loss and 12 sacks, led by B.J. Jefferson, who has five sacks and has tackled ballcarriers in the backfield 13.5 times.
Historically, the Lions are 15-13 against the Texans, and the all-time series between these two teams has been defined by streaks. A&M-Commerce won the first eight games against Tarleton between 1970 and 1996, and in convincing fashion too, never winning by less than 14 points. But through the 90s and 2000s, the Texans won the next seven matchups.
Last year the Lions lost twice to the Texans, once in the regular season and again in the Playoffs. The losses ended a six-game winning streak against the Texans.
The A&M-Commerce Lions will face the Tarleton State Texans on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, Texas.