No. 16 Lions move up in latest AFCA, Regional Polls

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

Pierre Leonard gives a thumbs up in a cruising 41-16 victory over West Texas A&M | Photo by Mikayla Maldonado

By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

The Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions football team moved up to No. 16 in the most recent AFCA Coaches poll following their 41-16 victory on Saturday over West Texas A&M at Memorial Stadium.

With the win, the Lions improve to 7-2 (5-1 LSC), while the Buffaloes fall to 5-4 (3-3 LSC).

West Texas struck first as quarterback Justin Houghtaling took the Buffaloes down the field setting up a three-yard run from Marshawn Brown making the score 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

The Lions answered the Buffs on their first possession and never looked back. Kane Wilson and Ovie Urevbu took the Lions down the field to set up a Carandal Hale seven-yard run to tie the game 7-7.

After both teams traded punts, the Lion defense struck next as Pierre Leonard sacked Houghtaling, forcing a fumble which D.D. Fletcher recovered, setting up great field position for the Lions at the West Texas 11-yard line. Three plays later, Wilson from his “Truck Package” punched it in from 1-yard out to take a 14-7 lead.

West Texas did not take much time to counter the Lions, scoring in less than four minutes after a 46-yard pass set up David Leonty from two-yards out at the 6:34 mark. The PAT missed wide left, and the Lions still led 14-13.

Late in the second quarter the Lions’ Joe Butler blocked John Cummings punt to give the Lions great field position at the WT 11-yard line. A few plays later Kristov Martinez made history as he knocked down a 25-yard field goal with 1:50 left in the half to make the score 17-13. The field goal marked the 63rd of his career, and set the Lone Star Conference Field Goal scoring record.

The Lions received the ball to start the second half and took no time to march down the field. After a short kickoff and a 33-yard return from Reggie Kincade, the Lions on a short field gave the ball to Urevbu once more as he broke off a 31-yard run to put the Lions in good position to extend the lead. Kane Wilson once again punched it in from his Truck Package to make the score 24-13.

Sitting in the driver’s seat leading by 11, Kane Wilson and Co. got the ball back once more as Wilson found Ryan Stokes on the first play of the drive for 68-yards to set up a two-yard pass to Vincent Hobbs to make the score 31-13.

After the Buffs responded on their next drive with a field goal, Kristov Martinez responded himself knocking in a 28-yard field goal, but only after the senior kicker was the recipient of a fake field goal attempt, which he rushed for a first down.

Leading 34-16 and forcing the Buffs to be aggressive, the Lions’ Dominique Ramsey intercepted a deep pass from Houghtaling at the A&M-Commerce 16 and took it all the way to the house, 84-yards for the final score of the game.

After winning and moving to 5-2 in Super Region Four, the NCAA released the second super regional rankings as the Lions moved up one spot to sixth, swapping places with MSU-Texas after the Mustangs lost to Tarleton State 35-34, . The top seven teams make the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

The No. 16 Lions will be back in action this upcoming Saturday as they travel to Odessa to take on the 2-7 (1-5 LSC) UT-Permian Basin Falcons at 6 p.m.