No. 12 Lions Come Back From 18-Point Deficit, Defeat Angelo State 36-35
The Texas A&M University-Commerce football team gave the home crowd a thrilling game from start to finish, coming back from as many as 18 points to defeat Angelo State by a score of 36-35 on Saturday night in Commerce.
Looking to avoid a repeat of last season’s heartbreaking loss in the Lone Star Conference Playoff, the no. 12 Lions (8-2, 6-0 LSC) was able to put the first points on the board with a seven yard pass from Harrison Stewart to Derrick Macon. Things began to go downhill, as the Rams (6-4, 3-3 LSC) began to find a rhythm, going up 10-21 with 16 seconds left in the half.
Angelo State went up by 18 points with an eight yard touchdown run by Kyle Washington, his second of the game, less than two minutes into the third quarter. Things looked grim for A&M-Commerce, but on the ensuing kickoff, Richard Cooper exploded through multiple defenders and returned the first kickoff for a touchdown for the team. The Lions looked like a rejuvenated team in the frame, scoring twice more to bring the score to 30-35.
The A&M-Commerce defense, which had been playing shorthanded after two Lions safeties were ejected for targeting, began to clamp down on the no. 1 offense in the nation. A big test for the A&M-Commerce defense came after a fake punt failed to yield a first down, giving the Rams the ball at the Lions 12-yard line. A&M-Commerce stonewalled Angel State, who settled for a field goal attempt. Special teams showed their prowess on the kick, blocking it and giving the Lions the ball at their own 20 with 9:29 left in the game.
After a 43 yard completion on third down, it came down to a fourth and five, where Stewart completed a pass to Lance Evans, who ran in for a score to put A&M-Commerce ahead 36-35.
Angelo State would not go down quietly, and put together a 14-play drive, which culminated in a fourth and one at the two yard line. Rams quarterback Kyle Washington attempted to squeeze his way over the line, but after an official measurement was spotted just short of the first down. The game was not in hand, as the Lions would need at least one first down to be able to run out the clock. Their prayers were answered when Cooper broke open a 50-yard run, sealing the victory.
Cooper ended with 116 rushing yards for the game, his ninth 100-yard effort in 10 games. Stewart went 22 for 44 for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Backup quarterback Gabe Rodriuez, who came into the game when Stewart got banged up during a drive, was a perfect three-for-three with a short touchdown throw in the third quarter. Both Darby Smith and Lance Evans had over 100 receiving yards, grabbing 138 and 126, respectively. Derrick Macon had two touchdown grabs on the night.
Charles Woods led the team with 10 tackles, and Darian Lindsey nabbed his third interceptions of the year.
With the win, A&M-Commerce advances to the final game of the LSC playoff for the second year, and will face the winner between Eastern New Mexico and Midwestern State next Saturday in Commerce.