Football ranked No. 23 after win

The Texas A&M University – Commerce football team came into last Saturday’s game with high hopes of making a statement, one that would be recognized by the whole nation. The Lions rose to the challenge, and succeeded.

The Lions now head into their next game with a 5-1 record, and a No. 23 ranking by the American Football Coaches Association, the official Division II football ranking system used by the NCAA.

According to the AFCA website, this is the first time A&M – Commerce has appeared in the Top 25 rankings since the preseason rankings of 2008.

The win they garnered against the Angelo State Rams was one of the most closely fought contests in recent memory, winning 41-40. The Lions came into San Angelo with a perfect 4-0 conference record, and Angelo State looked to dethrone them with the use of their star quarterback, Kyle Washington.

The Lions went ahead early, but soon fell behind due to miscues and ended up trailing 30-17 at halftime, which marked only the third time the Lions had trailed in any game all season. Quarterback Tyrik Rollison, who returned to the starting position after being out for a game and a half, seemed to have a slow start, throwing two interceptions in the first half.

The rest of the half didn’t fair much better, as the offense was brought down in their own end zone early in the game for a safety that put the Rams ahead. However, the second half saw a large turnaround for the Lions, who were tasked with overcoming a 13-point defecit.

A&M – Commerce wasted no time mounting a comeback and by the end of the third quarter, were only trailing by two. Rollison threw his second touchdown pass of the game, as well as his third interception, and backup quarterback Deric Davis also threw two TD passes on just two throws. More importantly, the Lions’ defense was starting to come alive, and containing Rams’ quarterback Washington’s big play capability.

In the fourth quarter however, Angelo State answered the Lions’ scores with a touchdown of their own, putting the score at a 40-31 Rams’ lead. A&M – Commerce was able to quickly answer with a rushing touchdown by sophomore Richard Cooper, who had been given the start just a few days prior. This once again brought the Lions within two points of the lead with time winding down in the game.

The Lions defense came up huge on the Rams’ next drive, forcing a punt. The Lions were then given the ball at their own 30-yard line with 6:11 to play. The offense would not be denied this possession as they had their longest drive of the game, chewing up 4:07  of game clock before being forced to try a 37-yard field goal. Kicker Saul Martinez, who had missed his first field goal of the season earlier in the game, showed his poise by nailing the field goal and giving the Lions a one point lead with 2:04 to play.

Angelo State did not wish to go gently into the night during their homecoming game, and furiously drove down the field with time winding down. The Lions defense stopped the Rams and forced a field goal attempt, but an off sides penalty on the Lions gave the Rams a fresh set of downs to try and win the game. The Rams were stifled by the Lions once more and had to attempt another field goal.

This time, Rams’ kicker Peter Marquez split the uprights, but it was voided by a timeout that was called by A&M – Commerce at the last moment. The strategy worked perfectly, as Marquez’ could not complete his game-winning attempt as it sailed wide right, giving the Lions the one-point win and retaining the lead in the conference.


With the excitement and drama behind them, the Lions look to continue the winning streak against West Texas A&M Saturday.

The Buffaloes currently sit at 4-2, with a 3-1 conference record. Coming into the season, WT was ranked at No. 11 in the nation, but two straight losses to open the season sent them plummeting out of the rankings. With their current four-game winning streak however, they are showing that they still have plenty of gas in the tank.

West Texas A&M boasts impressive numbers all around, being led offensively by junior running back Geremy Alridge-Mitchell and junior quarterback Preston Rabb.

Rabb boasts 11 passing touchdowns this season while throwing only three interceptions, and Alridge-Mitchell, who is a kick returner as well as a running back, comes into this contest with nine touchdowns and 1,129 all-purpose yards on the season.

Last season, the Lions lost to then No. 4 ranked West Texas A&M 62-28. Kickoff Oct. 18 at Memorial Stadium in Commerce is 7 p.m.