No. 15 A&M-Commerce Concludes Season, but not without a Fight

Tyler McDonough, Senior Sports Reporter

A&M-Commerce finishes the season 10-3 after falling to Tarleton State in the second round of the NCAA D2 Playoffs | Photo by Mikayla Maldonado


By Tyler McDonough | Senior Sports Reporter

Stephenville- The No. 15 Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions football team saw their bid at a repeat National Championship come to an end, falling to the Tarleton State Texans 34-28 on Saturday, November 24 at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville.

The Lions finish their 2018 campaign at 10-3 with a Regional Semifinal berth for the third consecutive season. The Texans improve to 12-0 and advance to the Regional Finals this upcoming weekend at Minnesota State-Mankato.

The Lions struck first against the Texans after Kader Kohou intercepted Tarleton State’s Ben Holmes in Texan territory. The Lions moved down inside the red zone, but had to settle for a Kristov Martinez 19-yard field goal to start the game off at 3-0.

Both teams punted twice in the first quarter before Tarleton eventually put together a drive. Holmes scrambled for 46-yards and put the Texans in Lion territory. Following the long run from Holmes the first quarter ended with the Lions leading 3-0. This marks the first time since September 22 that Tarleton State was held scoreless in a quarter.

Changing to the other end of the field, the Texans were into the wind. The Lion defense stopped Tarleton on third down to force a decision from the Texans. Tarleton elected to go for it instead of kick into the wind, however Scott Power and his defense stuffed the run turning the ball back over to the Lions.

After a three and out from the Lions, Tarleton drove back into the Lion red zone. The Lion defense held the Texans out of the end zone, forcing a field goal. The teams were tied 3-3 with 11:40 in the second quarter.

After the Lions and Texans traded possessions, Brucks Saathoff stuffed the run up the middle and stripped the Texans. The Lions could not turn the fumble into points and punted back to the Texans, however Tarleton fumbled the punt return, and the Lions set up possession again.

The Lions drove down the field, but the Texans stopped the Lions and forced another field goal attempt. At the 4:01 mark history was made as Kristov Martinez knocked in a 38-yard to give the Lions a 6-3 lead. The field goal gave Martinez the NCAA Division II kick scoring record.

Kristov Martinez is now the all time leader in kicking points in Division II | MK Photography

Tarleton responded on their next drive as their talented rushing attack finally broke through as Xavier Turner broke off a 47-yard run to set up his 6-yard touchdown to make the score 10-6. After a Lion punt the Texans stuck again as Holmes found DeShun Qualls on a 64-yard touchdown to make the score 17-6.

A gut punching touchdown put the Lions in a deep hole, but Kane Wilson drove the Lions down the field quickly late in the quarter to set up another Kristov Martinez field goal to make the score 17-9 heading into the locker room.

Tarleton started with the ball in the second half, but L.A. Dawson foiled the Texans plans as he intercepted Holmes at mid-field. Once again, the Lions drove down the field, but had to settle for another Martinez field goal. Martinez this time knocked in a career long 53-yard field goal to cut the TSU lead 17-12.

Tarleton quickly responded, scoring a touchdown in four plays to extend their lead 24-12.

Wilson and Co. got the ball back and marched down the field again. Wilson found Vincent Hobbs get the Lions across midfield, however the Lions once more had to settle for a long field goal, but Señor Automatico knocked in another career long and school record 55-yard field goal to cut the score to 24-15.

After TSU drove down the field and knocked in a field goal, the Lions finally put together a solid drive after three long completions from Wilson, however the drive stalled after TSU intercepted Wilson in the red zone. The Texans led 27-15 heading into the fourth quarter.

TSU broke the game open with a 43-yard rush to start the fourth quarter to push their lead 34-15.

Trailing by 19 the Lion offense began to show some urgency as Wilson moved the Lions down the field quickly. A 34-yard pass to Marquis Wimberly set the Lions up inside the five-yard line. Wilson punched the ball in from three yards out in his truck package to score the first touchdown for the Lions. The Lions 2-point conversion failed to keep the score at 34-21 with 8:55 left in the game.

The Lions forced another punt from TSU, and the Lions once again marched down the field. Wilson found Hobbs for 17-yards, and then found Ryan Stokes on a big completion of 42 yards on a big fourth down conversion. Wilson proceeded to find Stokes again for an 18-yard touchdown to cut the lead 34-28 with 5:37 in the game.

With the Lions storming back and completely in the game, the defense once again came up big just as they have all year. The defense forced a three and out and TSU had to punt, giving the ball back to the Lions with a chance to take the lead. Wilson found Wimberly on the first play of the drive for an outstanding 34-yard over the shoulder grab to put TSU on their heels. Wilson got the Lions down inside the Texans 30, but was stripped by the Texan defense to all but secure the win for TSU. The Texans proceeded to run out the clock to win the game.

Whether it be the valiant effort from Kane Wilson and Marquis Wimberly late in the game to keep the Lions alive, or Garrett Blubaugh and Brucks Saathoff combining for 37 total tackles, and even the youth of the secondary stepping up when they needed to, this A&M-Commerce team faced adversity all season and continued to battle.

This group of seniors goes down as the winningest class in school history with 43 wins over a four year stretch and a National Championship to add to their resume. This is also the third straight year the Lions have reached 10 wins in a season.

Head Coach Colby Carthel has now led the Lions to three straight 10-win seasons, including three straight Regional Semi-Final Appearances

One thing I can say is that a Colby Carthel lead team will battle week in and week out with class. Win or lose I’ve never seen the Lions go down without a fight, just as we witnessed this past weekend in Stephenville.


See you guys next year.

#LionU 🦁