A&M-Commerce Lions vs. West Texas A&M Buffs
Saturday, November 10 • 2 p.m.
Memorial Stadium • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (1-8, 1-6 LSC); West Texas A&M (8-2, 6-1 LSC)
A&M-Commerce hits the field for the final time in 2012, hosting 17th-ranked West Texas A&M in the season finale on Saturday, November 10 at 2 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. The game against the Buffs also marks the Lions Senior Day for 2012.
Lions on the Web
Fans unable to make it to Memorial Stadium for Saturday's season finale can still keep up to date with every Lion play. Live video of the game will be available online through LionAthletics.com, powered by Stretch Internet. A subscription is required with single-game broadcasts costing $7.95. KETR 88.9 FM will carry the game live with Charlie Chitwood and Brock Callaway on the call as the live stream will also be available online at KETR.org. Live stats will be available at LionAthletics.com with Twitter followers receiving updates @Lion_Athletics.
Scouting the Buffaloes
2012: 8-2 Overall, 6-1 Lone Star Conference (2nd), 4-1 road. Ranked 17th in this week's AFCA Division II Coaches Poll
Last Three Games: L vs. Midwestern State (52-48), W at West Georgia (52-28), W at Eastern New Mexico (44-21)
Head Coach: Don Carthel (Eastern New Mexico, 1974). Eighth season at West Texas A&M (75-20, .789); 17th season overall (121-64-1, .653)
Key Offensive Players:
• #10 Dustin Vaughan (Jr., QB): 240-of-372 for 3,274 yards (64.5 avg.), 33 TDs, 7 INTs, long of 77; 40 rushes for 33 yards (0.8 avg.), long of 23
• #3 Khiry Robinson (Sr., RB): 134 carries for 905 yards (6.8 avg.), 9 TDs, long of 75 yards; 30 catches for 315 yards (10.5 avg.), 3 TDs
• #11 Torrence Allen (Jr., WR): 49 catches for 853 yards (17.4 avg.), 8 TDs, long of 77
• #8 Nathan Slaughter (Jr., WR): 43 catches for 519 yards (12.1 avg.), 4 TDs, long of 67
• #43 Jarrian Rhone (R-Fr., WR): 33 catches for 362 yards (11.0 avg.), 3 TDs, long of 75
Key Defensive Players:
• #32 Taylor McCuller (Jr., LB): 110 tackles (46 solo), 8.0 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 FF, 5 QBH
• #46 Kyle Voss (Jr., LB): 85 tackles (33 solo), 15.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 3 FF, 2 QBH
• #22 Curtis Slater (Jr., DB): 57 tackles (35 solo), 6.5 TFL, 1.0 sack, 3 INTs, 7 PD, 4 PBU
• #2 Tyrell Higgins (Sr., DL): 41 tackles (12 solo), 11.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks, 6 QBH
• #90 Ethan Westbrooks (Jr., DL): 39 tackles (18 solo), 17.0 TFL, 11.5 sacks, 10 QBH, 1 FF
Key Special Teams Players:
• #41 Sergio Castillo (Jr., K): 13-of-15 FGs (86.7%), long of 56
• #13 Kevin VanVoris (Jr., P): 38 punts for 1,546 yards (40.7 avg.), long of 70, 15 I-20, 6 50+
• #3 Khiry Robinson (Sr., RB): 14 punt returns for 141 yards (10.1 avg.), long of 61
• #8 Nathan Slaughter (Jr., WR): 15 kick returns for 362 yards (24.1 avg.), long of 62
Synopsis: West Texas A&M heads into Saturday with an 8-2 record on the year and 6-1 in Lone Star Conference play. The Buffs are coming off a disappointing 52-48 loss against Midwestern State in Canyon which clinched the regular season Lone Star Conference title for the Mustangs. West Texas A&M has been tough both at home and on the road, posting a 4-1 mark away from Canyon with its only road loss coming in the season opener at sixth-ranked Colorado State-Pueblo (44-34).
Saturday afternoon marks the 27th meeting all-time between A&M-Commerce and West Texas A&M, dating back to 1923, with the Lions holding a 14-12 edge in the all-time series. The Buffs have had the upper hand in recent years, however, winning the last four games against the Lions including last season's 49-0 season-ending rout in Canyon. A&M-Commerce is 8-5 all-time against West Texas A&M in Commerce but have dropped their last three games against the Buffs at Memorial Stadium. The Lions' last win in the series was a 38-28 victory in 2004 in Canyon while their last home victory was a 28-19 decision in 2001.
Mason Comes Up Big Against Greyhounds
While A&M-Commerce's trip to Blackwater Draw, N.M., didn't have the outcome they intended in a 7-3 loss to Eastern New Mexico last Saturday, senior linebacker Danny Mason had one of the best games of his career, finishing with a career-high 17 tackles against the Greyhounds with one sack. It marks the fourth double-digit tackle game of the season for Mason who leads the Lone Star Conference in tackles per game (11.1). Mason has posted 100 tackles on the year, including 11 tackles for loss and four sacks, as he looks to become just the eighth linebacker in program history to be a two-time first team All-Lone Star Conference selection.
Smith Emerging As Lions' Go-To Receiver
Junior wide receiver Garrett Smith has made his first season at A&M-Commerce a memorable one as he has emerged as the Lions' go-to receiver in 2012. Smith pulled in a team-high seven catches for 91 yards at Eastern New Mexico, two shy of his career-best. For the year, Smith leads A&M-Commerce with 46 catches for 530 yards and two touchdowns, sitting four catches shy of becoming the 10th player in program history to catch 50 passes in a single season. He currently sits tied for third in the LSC in catches per game (5.1) and sixth in receiving yards per game (58.9) while ranking among the national leaders in both categories as well.
Strength vs. Strength
A&M-Commerce will face a stiff challenge against the West Texas A&M offensive assault which ranks among the Lone Star Conference leaders in a number of categories. The Buffs sit first in total offense (476.4 ypg) and passing offense (350.9 ypg) while ranking second in scoring offense (41.1 ppg) and fifth in rushing offense (125.5 ypg). The Lions have been one of the LSC's top teams in passing defense, sitting second at 165.8 ypg and ranked 11th nationally, but are eighth in the conference in rush defense (192.0 ypg). West Texas A&M is also stout defensively, ranking second overall in total defense (337.6 ypg) and rushing defense (137.2 ypg) while sitting fourth in passing defense (200.4 ypg). Where the real interesting battle could be is at the linebacker position where A&M-Commerce's Danny Mason and West Texas A&M's Taylor McCuller are the top-two tacklers in the Lone Star Conference.
What's On the Line
A&M-Commerce heads into its season-finale against West Texas A&M looking to snap a number of streaks. The Lions have lost five-straight games since the 21-14 overtime win over Texas A&M-Kingsville on September 29th and are just 2-19 in their last 21 games. A&M-Commerce has continued to struggle against teams from the state of Texas, winning just one of their last 23 games against Lone Star state opponents dating back to the 2008 season. The Lions are also looking to end a four-game losing skid to West Texas A&M, dating back to the 2004 season.
Lions Among the National Leaders
In addition to the Lone Star Conference rankings, A&M-Commerce has also made its mark on the national stage as well. As a team, the Lions continue to be one of the best against the pass, ranking 11th nationally in pass defense at 165.78 yards a game and rank among the top-50 in net punting at 34.68 yards per kick. Individually, Danny Mason's career-best 17-tackle performance at Eastern New Mexico has moved him into 10th nationally in tackles per game (11.11) while also sitting among the national leaders in tackles for loss (1.22). Punter Cameron Frosch also finds himself among the national top-20, sitting 16th in punting average at 41.98, thanks to his performance against the Greyhounds which included a 76-yard boot. Garrett Smith has also made a name for himself among the receiving corps, tied for 59th nationally in receptions per game (5.75) and ranking 90th in receiving yards per game (66.25) following his seven-catch, 91-yard showing at Eastern New Mexico.