Lions travel to Canyon for showdown with West Texas
After holding off a late surge by its fierce Conference rival Angelo State, the Texas A&M University-Commerce football team escaped with a 38-35 victory on Saturday night in Commerce. Now the Lions travel to Canyon to face one of their toughest rivals in West Texas A&M.
Head Coach Colby Carthel said that the team were “shooting themselves in the foot” with negative yardage plays and penalties in the second half of Saturday’s game against the Rams (4-2, 1-2 Lone Star Conference), one which saw a 38-21 lead evaporate in just two minutes and 18 seconds thanks to two quick scoring drives led by Angelo State quarterback Kyle Washington.
A&M-Commerce (5-1, 4-0 LSC) got the ball back with 5:17 remaining in the game, and slowly drove up the field in an attempt to chew up clock and push the ball into Rams territory. It came down to a crucial third and 10 situation, where a first down would mean that Angelo would be helpless to stop the clock after using both of their remaining timeouts earlier in the drive. Running back Richard Cooper stepped up with a 22-yard run to seal the game. Carthel lauded both his running back and his offensive line for the winning play.
“Cooper is a big time back, and big time players deliver in big time situations.” Carthel said. “But you can’t give enough credit to that O-line, you could’ve drove a car through the hole they made.”
Cooper ended with 101 Rushing yards on the night, marking his sixth 100-yard game this season. Quarterback Harrison Stewart was incredibly efficient, going 17-27 for 212 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions. The Lions defense intercepted Washington twice, and held him to his second lowest rushing total of the season. Davarus Shores also blocked a punt on what turned out to be the game winning score, which earned him LSC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Now the Lions travel on the road for just the third time this season to face the Buffaloes of West Texas (2-3, 1-2). A&M-Commerce has had little success in Canyon in recent years, with their last win at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium coming in 2004.
The Buffaloes, like the Lions, are bolstered by a powerful running game, with senior Geremy Alridge-Mitchell averaging 149.2 yards rushing per game, as well as scoring all nine of his team’s rushing touchdowns. Alridge-Mitchell also averages 19 yards per kickoff return. Defensively, West Texas boasts a strong passing defense, giving up only three passing touchdowns all season. The Buffaloes have also snagged nine interceptions on the season, second in the conference behind A&M-Commerce’s 11.
Carthel is familiar with West Texas football from his time there as a coach, and knows how tough it is to play in Canyon.
“That place can get rockin’.” Carthel said. “It’s easy for them to build a lot of momentum in a stadium like that.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on 88.9 FM or online at ketr.org.