A&M-Commerce 60, Eastern New Mexico 28
Location: Memorial Stadium • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (1-8, 1-6 LSC); Eastern New Mexico (2-8, 1-6 LSC)
Up Next: at No. 20 West Texas A&M • Saturday, Nov. 12 • 1 p.m.
COMMERCE, Texas -- Running back Marcus Graham posted a career-high 152 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns and J.J. Harp welcomed his old team to Commerce, completing 24-of-34 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns as A&M-Commerce routs Eastern New Mexico 60-28 for its first win of the year.
Graham averaged 9.5 yard per carry, busting off three runs of 30 yards or more, setting a milestone in the process. He upped his career rushing total to 1,985 yards, leapfrogging both Sam McCord (1957-59) and Bill Allison (1968-70) into ninth place all-time in career rushing yards for the Lions. He sits just one yard back of Cliff Edwards (2005-06) for eighth-place all-time, and heads into his final game needing just 15 yards to become the sixth player in program history to rush for 2,000 yards in his career.
Harp, who played for two seasons at Eastern New Mexico, played in his first game against his former teammates and had one of his best games of the season, completing 70.6 percent of his passes for his second 300+ yard passing game of his career with the three touchdown strikes.
Tyler Rawlings led the Lion receiving corps, catching six passes on the night for 38 yards. Adorian Arthur hauled in five passes for 47 yards and a touchdown while Adam Jones had four catches for 63 yards. Taylor Fore notched three receptions for 44 yards while Seth Smith had a pair of catches, including an 80-yard touchdown catch and run for his first career touchdown.
The running game finally found its footing, posting 192 yards on the night compared to just 143 for Eastern New Mexico. The Lions finished with 535 yards of total offense on the night as the Greyhounds were able to manage just 344.
Defensively, Cory Whitfield had a career night on Senior Night as well, posting a career-best 15 tackles, including two for loss. Matt Claggett also set a personal-high with 14 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss. Bryn Roy and Tevin Moore both recorded sacks on the night for A&M-Commerce.
The Lions came out of the gates aggressive as on the opening play, the Lions ran a double reverse with the ball ending up back in the hands of Harp, who completed a 47-yard pass to Graham. After a one-yard run, Harp then connected with Kevin Bevans for a 29-yard touchdown, giving A&M-Commerce the 6-0 lead with just 1:08 burned off the clock.
Eastern New Mexico would respond with a touchdown at the 4:42 mark, taking the lead 7-6. After the Lions were unable to move the ball, Cameron Frosch's punt was downed at the one-yard line, pinning the Greyhounds against their own goal line. With the defensive line applying pressure, Eastern New Mexico quarterback Wesley Wood scrambled to his right and tried to hit a receiver down the sideline. But linebacker Danny Mason, who was pressuring Wood in the endzone, was able to snag the pass as soon as it left Wood's hand, coming down in the endzone for an interception return for a touchdown, putting A&M-Commerce up 13-7 at the end of the first.
The Greyhounds drove the field again, notching a 17-yard touchdown pass from Wood to Chase Kyser to reclaim the lead at 14-13 early in the second. After exchanging possessions, Eastern New Mexico was attempting to punt the ball away when Claggett blocked the punt at the 33-yard line and the ball was batted eventually into the endzone where Cortney Craig pounced on it, giving the Lions the 20-14 advantage.
That play seemed to energize A&M-Commerce as on Eastern New Mexico's ensuing drive, Moore sacked Wood in the endzone for a safety, putting the Lions on top 22-14. The momentum shift came firmly back to the Lions as Darryll Crummie and Graham scored rushing touchdowns on each of the Lions' ensuing drives, putting A&M-Commerce on top 36-14 with four minutes remaining in the opening half.
Eastern New Mexico would trim into the lead with a 92-yard kickoff return, cutting the deficit to 15 at 36-21 with just under four minutes remaining in the half. But A&M-Commerce wasn't done as the Lions drove the field with Harp connecting with Arthur for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds left in the half, giving the Lions the 43-21 lead at the intermission. The 43 points scored in the half was the most in A&M-Commerce history, surpassing the 38 scored against Abilene Christian in 1992.
The Greyhounds struck first in the second half, driving the length of the field before Wood scampered in for a one-yard touchdown, trimming the lead to 15 once again at 43-28. But that was as close as Eastern New Mexico would get on Senior Night, as a 39-yard field goal from Jacob O'Neil, the 80-yard touchdown pass from Harp to Smith and a seven-yard touchdown run from Graham closed out the game, giving the Lions its first win of the season.
Wood finished 15-of-24 for 144 yards with the one touchdown and the one interception for Eastern New Mexico with Tony Valenzuela rushing 16 times for 94 yards. Darian Dale led the Greyhound receivers with five catches for 63 yards with Chase Kyser adding four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Four different Greyhound finished with seven tackles on the night with Ian Ogando notching three tackles for loss with a pair of sacks.
The victory over Eastern New Mexico snaps a two-game losing streak against the Greyhounds as the Lions ensure they will not suffer their first winless season since 1929. The 60 points scored by A&M-Commerce is the most since a 63-34 victory over Abilene Christian in 1990.
One game remains in the 2011 season for A&M-Commerce, and it will be another challenging test as the Lions travel to Canyon, Texas to face 20th-ranked West Texas on Saturday, November 12. Opening kickoff against the Buffs is set for 1 p.m.