The No. 1 Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions rallied from a 16-point deficit to force overtime, then made clutch plays down the stretch to pull out a 37-36 double overtime victory over Texas A&M-Kingsville on Thursday.
The Lions win the Chennault Cup for the seventh straight year and move their record to 1-0 overall and 1-0 in the Lone Star Conference. The Javelinas are now 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the LSC.
The Lions are next in action on Saturday, September 8 at William Jewell with a noon kickoff in Liberty, Mo.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Lion defense forced an interception on the first Javelina drive, with Edwards-Cooper picking off the pass. The Lions drove into enemy territory but a Martinez field goal fell just short.
The Lion defense again held the Javelinas on their next possession, forcing a turnover on downs. Wheeler then completed a 33-yard pass to Matt Childers to give the Lions their first opportunity in the red zone. However, it was the Javelina defense that made a play, intercepting a pass in the end zone to leave the Lions without points. Neither team scored in the first quarter.
The Javelinas scored on their first possession of the second quarter after the Lions muffed a punt and A&M-Kingsville recovered inside the red zone. A 17-yard touchdown pass was followed by a bad snap on a PAT attempt, giving the Javelinas a 6-0 lead.
Two Lion punts were sandwiched between a missed field goal by A&M-Kingsville. The Javelinas then went on a 13-play drive to score a touchdown and take a 13-0 lead into halftime.
Disaster struck again for the Lions in the first drive of the second half. On the first play of the drive, the Lions fumbled and the Javelinas recovered. The Lion defense held its ground and A&M-Kingsville was only able to kick a field goal to take a 16-0 lead.
Wheeler and the offense started to settle in the middle part of the third quarter. Wheeler completed a 33-yard pass to Wimberly and followed that with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Childers. The Lions cut the Javelina lead to 16-7 with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
A&M-Kingsville answered back right away with a touchdown drive of their own. The first play of the possession was a 43-yard pass. The drive was capped with a nine-yard touchdown throw, bringing the Javelina lead back up to 16 points.
The Lions scored another touchdown on their next possession. Wheeler completed passes of 19 and 25 yards to get the Lions in the red zone. Wilson finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run right up the gut. A two-point conversion failed and the Lions trailed 23-13 going into the fourth quarter.
The Lions scored quickly in the fourth quarter to cut into the Javelina lead even more. A 44-yard pass from Wheeler to Davis put the Lions close. The drive was capped with a catch-and-run from Hobbs, who broke a leg tackle to get into the end zone. The Lions trailed 23-20.
The game turned into a defensive battle in the fourth quarter, with both teams forcing the other to punt. Both teams punted on three consecutive possessions. The Lion defense then again made its presence known. An errant throw from the Javelina quarterback was swallowed up by Kincade, giving the Lions possession inside enemy territory with less than two minutes to play.
Urevbu started the drive with a 13-yard rush. Wheeler then hit consecutive long pass plays to Wimberly to get the team in field goal position. With the pressure of the game on his shoulders, Martinez delivered, drilling the 34-yard kick to tie the game with 17 seconds left, sending the game into overtime tied at 23.
The Lions possessed the ball to start overtime and every single play call was a rush by Urevbu. He punched the ball in the end zone to give the Lions their first lead of the game.
The Javelinas scored on their first possession of overtime and then started the second overtime with the ball and also scored a touchdown. However, for the second time in the game, the PAT attempt was fumbled and the Lions had the chance to win the game.
Urevbu rushed four times in the second overtime before the Lions called Wheeler’s name on fourth down and goal. He dropped back to pass and found Wimberly in the end zone for the touchdown. The Lion faithful cheered as Martinez kicked the extra point through the uprights to give the Lions the walk off win.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
– With the win, the Lions move their winning streak to 11 consecutive games, which is the longest streak in Division II.
– This is the second consecutive one-point win in a season opener for the Lions, who defeated North Alabama 8-7 in the 2017 opener.
– This is A&M-Commerce’s seventh straight Chennault Cup win, tying A&M-Kingsville’s streak from 1992-99 as the longest winning streak in the 65-game series.
– The Lions fell behind by 16 points at halftime and scored the final 16 points of regulation after trailing 23-7 in the third quarter.
– A&M-Commerce had 24 first downs to A&M-Kingsville’s 21. The Javelinas had 415 yards of offense to the Lions’ 394. A&M-Commerce turned the ball over three times.
– Preston Wheeler (Austin – Bowie) completed 23-of-48 passes for 298 yards in his first career start, throwing three touchdown passes and one interception.
– Marquis Wimberly (Duarte, Calif.) had eight receptions for 101 yards and the game-tying touchdown in the second overtime.
– Vincent Hobbs (Mesquite – Horn) and Matt Childers (Henderson) each had touchdown receptions.
– Ovie Urevbu (Plano – Legacy Christian) was the Lions’ leading rusher with 14 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown. Kane Wilson (New Orleans, La.) also had a touchdown carry.
– Kristov Martinez (Edinburg) was 1-for-2 on field goals, tying the game with 20 seconds remaining in regulation on a 34-yarder.
– Brucks Saathoff (San Antonio – Reagan) had nine tackles to lead the Lions.
– Jalon Edwards-Cooper (Spring – Dekaney) had eight stops with a tackle for loss and an interception, while Neema Behbahani (Plano) had eight tackles and two pass breakups.
– Michael Onuoha (Edmond, Okla.) had 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries, leading the charge on A&M-Commerce’s 10 tackled for loss. Reggie Kincade (Everman) also had a key fourth quarter interception.
– Jake Viquez (Rockwall) had four punts for an average of 38.2 yards, while Tristan Perry (Mineral Wells) punted twice for a 44.5 yard average.
– Kincade had two kickoff returns for a 40.0 yard average.