The Texas A&M University-Commerce football team had to survive a would-be comeback attempt by the surging Angelo State Rams, but ultimately secured a 38-35 win Saturday night in Commerce in the ESPN Division II Game of the Week.
The game was a battle between the Lions’ (5-1, 4-0 Lone Star Conference) conference leading scoring offense against Angelo State’s (4-2, 1-2 LSC) top scoring defense. Both teams had no trouble putting points on the board in the first half, but A&M-Commerce seemed to hold an edge in intensity, and went into halftime with a 31-21 lead.
The scoring slowed dramatically in the third quarter, with the only points in the frame coming on a blocked punt by Davarus Shores which was picked up by Dionte Taylor in the end zone for a score. Rams receivers repeatedly dropping passes and quarterback Kyle Washington was under pressure all game by the Lions’ defensive front.
However, Angelo State found a second wind in the fourth quarter, getting two touchdowns and dramatically shifting the momentum in the Rams’ favor. A&M-Commerce clung to its 38-35 lead, getting the ball back with about five minutes to play. The Lions trudged down the field chewing up clock time with every play. The key play to seal the game came on a 22-yard run by Richard Cooper on third and ten. The run not only put Cooper over 100-yards for the game – a feat he has accomplished every contest this season – it also let A&M-Commerce run the clock out to grab victory.
Head Coach Colby Carthel was proud of the effort of his team, one that saw a touchdown on offense, defense, and special teams.
“We all came together and had a team effort against a tough opponent.” Carthel said. “This kind of thing gives us a ton of confidence going towards next week.”
Running back Cooper was a workhorse all night, and had the game-deciding play for the Lions.
“I knew it was going to come down to our offense.” Cooper said. “I was ready when they gave the chance to me.”
Cooper ended the night with 101 rushing yards and a touchdown, while his cohort Theo Wofford gained 82 of his own. Quarterback Harrison Stewart finished a respectable 17-27 with 212 yards and one touchdown and no interceptions. The Lions defense did their best to keep Washington in check, and held him to his second lowest rushing total of the season with just 32 yards on the ground. The defense also snagged two interceptions, with Demarlon Morris returning one for a touchdown.
A&M-Commerce now still stands tied with Midwestern State atop the LSC, and will face their next challenge in Canyon, Texas when they will square off against the West Texas A&M Buffaloes. The Buffs have struggled to a 2-3 record this year, but pulled off a shocker of a win against defending National Champion Colorado State-Pueblo in week two. The Lions won the last meeting in Commerce by a score of 48-21.