No. 9 Lions win thriller against No. 4 MSU-Texas

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

Lion players kneel in prayer following the win over MSU-Texas | Photo Courtesy Abigail Rogers

By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

In a game that featured two teams, two days, two stadiums, and possibly a Guinness World Record for the longest halftime, the No. 9 A&M-Commerce Lions prevailed over the No. 4 Midwestern State Mustangs 20-19 this past weekend.

The game began at 7 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, TX and finished around 4 p.m. Sunday at Apogee Stadium at the University of North Texas in Denton. The two teams played one half of football at Midwestern State with the score tied 10-10 before lightening and rain delayed the contest until the next day.

The game was originally cancelled and considered a “no-contest”, but around 2 a.m. on Sunday morning the game was decided it must be played considering the fact that the two teams will most likely compete for the Lone Star Conference Championship.

A&M-Commerce marched down the field on their first possession following a Dominique Ramsey interception, but the Lion had to settle for a Kristov Martinez field goal to open things up. MSU quarterback Layton Rabb answered the Lions taking the Mustangs down to field for a touchdown to make it 7-3 early on.

A couple of drives later, Kane Wilson was able to find Ryan Stokes on a 24-yard touchdown with 47 seconds left in the first quarter to regain the lead 10-7.

With 5:38 left in the second quarter Rabb took the Mustangs back down to field, threatening to score once again, but the Lion defense held, forcing the Mustangs to settle for a field goal from the 5-yard line.

With the score tied 10-10, Wilson drove the Lions down the field into the Mustang redzone just before the half, but was intercepted, and the two went to the locker rooms tied up.

After a 17-hour halftime, both teams took the field in Denton looking to prevail over their longtime LSC rival.

The Lions opened the second half with the ball, but were forced to punt the ball, in which MSU was able to take the ball down the field to take a 17-10 lead with 8:12 left in the 3rd.

Reggie Kincade took the ensuing kickoff 41 yards, which set up another field goal by Martinez to make the score 17-13 late in the 3rd. With the field goal, Martinez tied the Lone Star Conference career record with 62 career makes.

After a MSU punt down to the A&M-Commerce two yard-line at the end of the third quarter, Kane Wilson drove the Lions 98-yards down the field, capping off the drive with a four-yard run in his “Truck Package” giving the Lions a 20-17 lead with 11:22 left in the game.

This is where things began to get interesting (especially in the kicking game).

Both teams were forced to punt in their ensuing possessions, but a bad snap over A&M-Commerce punter Tristan Perry costed the Lions as the ball rolled through the back of the endzone, resulting in a safety.

With the score 20-19 and time running out in the game, the Mustangs found themselves with an opportunity to take a two point lead with 3:15 left in the game on a Jaron Imbriani field goal, but Brandon Basque was able to get his mitts on the ball knocking it down to keep the score at 20-19.

A&M-Commerce was able to milk some clock on their next drive, forcing MSU to use all of their timeouts, but the Mustangs still got the ball back at their own 45-yardline.

Midwestern marched down the field, making it down to the A&M-Commerce 13-yardline, setting up an opportunity for a game-winning field goal, but the Mustangs missed the 30-yard field goal wide right, sending the Lion sideline into a frenzy.

E.J. Thompson, Brucks Saathoff, and Kristov Martinez all swept the Lone Star Conference player of the week awards. Thompson rushed for a career high 150, and had more than 200 all-purpose yards. Saathoff continued to lead the Lion defense as he made 9 tackles in the contest, and Martinez took the special teams award as he knocked in two field goals along with numerous touch-backs.

With the 20-19 victory, the Lions move to 5-1 (3-0 LSC) on the season, while MSU-Texas falls to 5-1 (2-1 LSC). The Lions did jump two spots from No. 9 to No. 7 in the AFCA polls, while the Mustangs fell from No. 4 to No. 12.

The Lions are back in action this Saturday at 4 p.m. as they host No. 16 Tarleton State at Memorial Stadium for Youth Sports Day.