Lions win big at Kingsville
A&M-Commerce roared out to a commanding 41-7 lead early in the second half behind big plays on all facets of the game, notching its first Lone Star Conference victory of the season with a 41-28 win at rival A&M-Kingsville. The Lions retain the Chennault Cup with their second-straight victory over the Javelinas, notching their first road victory in the state of Texas since 2006.
A&M-Commerce's defense showed up in a big way against its arch rival, holding A&M-Kingsville to just 198 total yards while stifling the vaunted Javelina rushing attack, holding them to -14 yards rushing on the night. The Lions generated seven sacks on the night, led by two from Charles Tuaau and one each from Davarus Shores, Brandon Turner and Gage Windsor, with 15 tackles for loss as Tuaau and Turner each recorded 2.5 while Cole Pitts notched a pair.
Offensively, A&M-Commerce didn't have its best outing of the season, accumulating just 287 yards of total offense. Three Lion quaterbacks combined for 205 passing yards, highlighted by Tyrik Rollison's 13-of-19 for 129 yards, while A&M-Commerce generated 82 yards rushing.
On the ground, Ki-Janaven Garrett finished with 80 yards on 24 carries while Richard Cooper added 29 yards on six rushes. Through the air,Vernon Johnson led A&M-Commerce with five catches for 64 yards while Jordon Jenkins tallied 50 yards on a pair of receptions, including a 46-yard touchdown.
Special teams also played a key role in the A&M-Commerce victory as senior punter Cameron Frosch recorded six punts for 285 yards (47.5 ypp) and a pair of touchbacks. With his fourth punt of the night, Frosch became A&M-Commerce's all-time leading punter, surpassing Dan Roberson's 9,332 yards from 1983-86 as the senior from Rowlett has punted for 9,447 yards during his A&M-Commerce career.
Playing in a hostile environment on Homecoming at A&M-Kingsville, A&M-Commerce set the tone early, forcing a fumble on the Javelinas' third play of the game. But the Lions were only able to manage a pair ofSaul Martinez field goals in the first quarter as the junior connected from 42 and 22 yards out to give A&M-Commerce the 6-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
The score would remain the same as both teams exchanged possessions until the A&M-Commerce defensive unit forced an A&M-Kingsville fumble at its own 18 yard line with just over five minutes remaining in the half. Four plays later, Harrison Stewart would punch it in from two yards out to give the Lions the two-score advantage at 13-0.
A&M-Kingsville would respond with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing drive, trimming the Lion deficit to 13-7 with 2:38 remaining. The Lions and Javelinas then exchanged possessions as A&M-Kingsville was set up to punt with just under one minute remaining in the half, giving the Lions hope of a score heading into the half.
But A&M-Commerce would get much more as Dionte Taylor came in and blocked the Javelina punt attempt and scrambled 21 yards to the endzone, giving the Lions the 20-7 lead. Then with A&M-Kingsville looking to add some points before halftime, freshman Cameron Napoleon intercepted a Javelina pass and raced 52 yards down the sideline, finding the endzone with three seconds left to give the Lions a commanding 27-7 lead heading into the halftime break.
That momentum carried over into the second half as on its opening drive, A&M-Commerce went 75 yards in five plays, thanks in large part to a 50-yard pass from Rollison to Johnson that got the Lions inside the five-yard line. Stewart would then punch in his second rushing touchdown of the evening, putting A&M-Commerce on top 34-7 early in the third quarter.
With the score remaining the same heading into the fourth, A&M-Commerce recorded the dagger as Stewart threw a 46-yard strike to Jenkins, who raced down the far sideline to give the Lions the 41-7 lead and all but wrap up the Chennault Cup. Stewart finished the night hitting five of his six passes for 76 yards and the touchdown while also rushing for seven yards with a pair of scores.
A&M-Kingsville would add three late touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 22-yard touchdown pass and a 43-yard fumble return for a score in the final 2:29, making the final tally seem closer than it truly was.
The win against the Javelinas snapped a 15-game road losing streak in the state of Texas as A&M-Commerce notches its first win on the road in the Lone Star state since a 17-9 victory at Angelo State in 2006. It is the Lions' first victory at Javelina Stadium since 2001 and the first time notching back-to-back wins against A&M-Kingsville since the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
A&M-Commerce now gets ready to head home and build on its two-game winning streak when it welcomes another former Lone Star Conference foe to Memorial Stadium. The Lions will take on McMurry on Saturday, October 19 as the opening kick against the Warhawks is scheduled for 6 p.m.