Lions mount comeback against Javelinas in double overtime

Lion defensive back Darent White tackles Javelina running back Jeff Carr. White would make six total tackles while Carr rush for 33 yards on 9 attempts. Photo Courtesy | Jessie Cunningham

By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

The No. 1 A&M-Commerce Lions began their 2018 season by defeating conference foe A&M-Kingsville 37-36 in a double-overtime thriller at Memorial Stadium in front of a nationally televised audience.

The defending National Championship defense picked things up just as they left last season with a Jalon Edwards-Cooper interception on just the fourth play. The defense slowed the Javelinas offense as much as they could in the first half after being put in some tough field positions to defend, holding the Javelinas to only 13 first half points.

While the defense only gave up 13 points in the first half, the Luis Perez-less offense struggled by not scoring and putting up just 94 total yards on 24 plays, including a rare missed field goal from Kristov Martinez from 51 yards out.

Quarterback Preston Wheeler was making his first collegiate career start at quarterback for the Lions, and although many of the offensive weapons from last year are back, Wheeler, along with the offensive line, struggled to get into a rhythm as Wheeler went 6-14 for 72 yards and an interception in the first half.

On the opposite sideline, quarterback Koy Detmer Jr. led the Javelinas to a 13-0 halftime lead throwing two touchdowns, going 14-21 with an interception.

After a fumble by Lion running back Carandal Hale to open the second half, the Javelinas kicked a field goal to extend their lead 16-0 just under the 13-minute mark.

With things not looking good for the Lions, Wheeler could not have picked a better time to settle in as he connected on a 33-yard pass to Marquis Wimberly that eventually set up a 17-yard touchdown pass to Matt Childers to get the Lions on the board for the first time in 2018.

After A&M-Kingsville answered with a touchdown, a poised Wheeler led the Lions again back down the field to set up a 1-yard run by Kane Wilson to cut into the Javelina lead making the score 23-13.

The Lions quickly got the ball back at the beginning of the fourth quarter and found the familiar face of Vincent Hobbs for a touchdown to cut the A&M-Kingsville lead 23-20. Redshirt senior Ovie Urevbu had a spectacular second half filling in for Carandal Hale rushing for 63 yards on 14 carries and was a key part into getting the Lions back in the game.

Lion kicker Kristov Martinez jogs off the field, and he would later clinch the double overtime for the Lions. Photo Courtesy | Jessie Cunningham

A wild and strange game that had A&M-Commerce trailing most of it, the Lions found themselves only down three points with just less than five minutes left.

The defense did their part forcing a punt, but a three-and-out found the Lions punting back to the Javelinas with just under three minutes left in regulation.

After spending two timeouts and forcing a crucial 3rd and 5, Reggie Kincade stepped in front of a Detmer Jr. deep ball and returned it to mid-field to give the Lions great field position. A few plays later Kristov Martinez redeemed himself by knocking down a 34-yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.

The Lions got the ball to start the overtime and did not take much time in taking their first lead of the game. Every play call in the first overtime was a rush to Urevbu who eventually punched in a 6-yard touchdown run.

Detmer Jr. countered the Lions’ quick score by rushing in a 10-yard run to tie the game. He quickly took the Javelinas down the field in the second overtime to take the lead 36-30, but a crucial botched extra point kept the Javelinas lead at just six.

With their backs against the wall once again, Wheeler and Urevbu led the Lions down the field threatening to score once more. Urevbu took the Lions down to the seven yard-line by himself, but as the Lions found themselves down to 4th and goal, it was Wheeler who found Marquis Wimberly on a slant route from seven yards out to tie the game. Kristov Martinez knocked in the extra point to secure the 37-36 opening game victory for the Lions.  

The Lions look to start 2-0 as they are back in action on Saturday, September 8 at William Jewell with a 12 p.m. kickoff in Liberty, Mo.