The No. 9 Texas A&M University-Commerce football team returns to Lone Star Conference play with a top 10 battle, taking on No. 4 MSU Texas on Saturday ngith.
WHO: Texas A&M University-Commerce at Midwestern State University
WHERE: Wichita Falls | Memorial Stadium
WHEN: 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 6
RECORDS: The Lions are 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Lone Star Conference. The Mustangs are 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the Lone Star Conference.
RANKINGS: Texas A&M-Commerce is ranked No. 9 in the AFCA Coaches’ Poll and No. 16 in the D2Football.com Media Poll. MSU Texas is ranked No. 4 in the AFCA Poll and No. 3 in the D2Football.com Poll.
NATION’S EYES TURN TO THE LONE STAR
• The game between the A&M-Commerce Lions and the MSU Texas Mustangs is slated to match up a pair of top 10 teams for the third consecutive season.
• The Mustangs have generally had the upper hand in the games since the matchup returned to the regular LSC rotation, but the last six games have been exceptionally close.
• Five of the last six games have been decided by one possession, with the other decided by only two scores.
• This is the second top 10 matchup of the season in Division II, with MSU Texas also playing in the other. The then-No. 10 Mustangs defeated No. 2 West Florida in Week Two.
• With the Lions’ No. 9 national ranking, A&M-Commerce has been recognized as a nationally ranked team 100 times since joining Division II in 1981.
• A&M-Commerce has been ranked in 45 consecutive AFCA polls, dating back to the 2015 preseason poll.
• This is A&M-Commerce’s 51st all-time appearance in the AFCA poll since its inception in 2000.
• This is the Lions’ 12th straight appearance in the top 10, and the Lions have been in the top 10 for 31 of the last 32 polls.
ALL-TIME AGAINST THE MUSTANGS
• The Lions and Mustangs are meeting for the 24th time in a series that dates back to 1947.
• The Lions have a 12-11 lead in the series.
• A Lion win would be the first in Wichita Falls since 1998.
• These two teams have only met in Wichita Falls twice in the last 14 years despite playing eight times in that span.
• This is the second straight season the Lions are playing in Wichita Falls.
• MSU Texas has a 5-3 lead in the series on its home turf.
• Head coach Colby Carthel now ranks fifth in A&M-Commerce history in coaching wins with 53 wins.
• He is now only 10 wins behind Lion and LSC legend J.V. Sikes, who sits in fourth place with 63 wins.
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SENIORS ON PACE TO SET SCHOOL RECORD
• The 2017 senior class established the school record for wins in a four-year period with the victory in the National Championship Game with 42 games won in a four year span.
• The 2018 seniors now rank second in school history at 37-8 with a guarantee of six more games in the season.
LION FANS TURN OUT IN RECORD NUMBERS
• Bolstered by two games of over 10,000 attendance – including the National Semifinal win over Harding – the Lions’ attendance achieved new heights in 2017.
• In only six home dates, A&M-Commerce drew a school record 51,482 total fans. That total attendance ranked third in Division II.
• In terms of average attendance, the Lion faithful turned out at a rate of 8,580 per game. That ranked fifth nationally.
• Over the last four years (available in the NCAA rankings database), the Lions have nearly doubled their average turnout since the 2013 season. The next closest season since 2009 was over 2,400 fans per game fewer.
• With improved attendance by Lion Nation for the Lock Haven game, the Lions rank fourth nationally in total attendance and fifth nationally in average attendance.
MARTINEZ CONTINUES TO CLIMB SCORING CHARTS
• Kicker Kristov Martinez scored 11 points vs. Lock Haven, with a field goal and 9-for-9 success rate on PATs.
• The graduate student from Edinburg is now 6-for-8 on field goal attempts and 20-for-20 on PAT attempts in 2018,
• He is now 60-of-79 on field goal attempts in his career, which is ranked eighth in Division II history. The Division II career record is 82 made field goals.
• West Texas A&M’s Sergio Castillo has the LSC record with 62 field goals.
• Martinez is the Division II active career leader in made field goals, and is fourth in all NCAA divisions behind LSU’s Cole Tracy (78), Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone (63), and Toledo’s Jameson Vest (61).
• LSU’s Tracy is actually a Division II transfer from Assumption (Mass.), where he won the Fred Mitchell Award in 2017.
• Martinez is on the preseason watch list for the Mitchell Award.
• For his career, Martinez has made 196-of-203 PAT attempts and is the Division II active career leader. Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert is the all divisions active career leader with 255 made PATs. Martinez is fourth in all divisions behind Seibert, Ohio State’s Sean Nuernberger (209), and North Dakota State’s Cam Pederson (199).
• In terms of overall scoring, Martinez (376 points) is chasing Castillo (437 points), and former Harlon Hill winner at Texas A&I Johnny Bailey (426 points) for the all-time LSC scoring record.
HARRIS AWARD NOMINEE IS TOP TACKLER
• The Lions’ leading tackler in senior Brucks Saathoff is also one of the leaders in the Lone Star Conference.
• The San Antonio native is averaging 10.4 tackles per game through four contests.
• This ranks 25th nationally.
• In 2017, Saathoff was the Lion leader with 101 tackles, averaging 6.7 stops per game.
• For his career, Saathoff has 261 tackles, which is the leading mark for the Lions.
NEEMA’S NEW CAREER HIGH
• Neema Behbahani had a career game in the loss to CSU-Pueblo, notching his most tackles in a single game in his career.
• The Plano Senior High product had 15 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss.
• For the season, the junior has tied for the second-most tackles on the squad, making 27 stops with 3.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
• He is one of three linebackers averaging over five tackles per game.
“BIG MIKE” BEHIND THE LINE
• Michael Onuoha (pronounced uh-no-ha) has been a menace in the backfield.
• The senior from Edmond, Okla., ranks 13th nationally in sacks per game, averaging 1.1 sacks per contest. He has 5.5 sacks for losses of 30 yards through five games.
• His sack against CSU-Pueblo was also a forced fumble, recovered by Saathoff.
• He is 14th nationally in tackles for loss, with 1.9 tackles for losses per game.
• Prior to the season, Onuoha was named an honorable mention All-American and second team all-region pick by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette. He was also a first team all-Lone Star Conference pick.
• “Big Mike” ranked seventh in the LSC with 12 tackles for loss and recorded 56 tackles in the 2017 season.
HALE’S HUNDRED HITS A THOUSAND
• Lion running back Carandal Hale ran for 101 yards in the win at Eastern New Mexico and capped that night with a 32-yard touchdown carry.
• With his performance in Portales, the sophomore from Greenville rolled his career odometer over the 1,000-yard mark,
• He enters the MSU Texas game with 1,079 career yards
• Hale is the 37th Lion back to roll past 1,000 career rushing yards.
• He is the third Lion running back to go over 1,000 yards in the Carthel era, joining Richard Cooper (3,174 yards from 2013-16) and Theo Wofford (1,306 yards from 2014-15).
• Only seven Lions have gone over 2,000 yards in their careers.
MARQUIS MEETS MILESTONE MARK
• Senior wide receiver Marquis Wimberly achieved a milestone in the CSU-Pueblo game, finishing the game on exactly 1,000 yards receiving.
• With his 195 yards receiving against Lock Haven, Wimberly moved into the top 30 in career receiving yards and is the top receiver on the current roster in terms of yardage.
• Senior tight end Vincent Hobbs is the other Lion receiver trending towards 100 career receptions.
• He has 89 receptions for 1,083 yards, putting him 11 catches away from 100.
• At this point in program history, 14 Lion receivers have had 100 career receptions.
• Of those 14, four have played under Colby Carthel.
RAMSEY’S RETURNS REAP REWARDS
• Sophomore return man and defensive back Dominique Ramsey has had two punt returns of over 70 yards to set up Lion scores.
• The Converse Judson product scored the opening touchdown of the game for the Lions against CSU-Pueblo with a 72-yard punt return for a score in the first quarter.
• In the Lock Haven game, Ramsey’s 71-yard return set up a score on the next play.
• Ramsey ranks eighth nationally this season with a 16.1 yard per punt return average and is one of only two players in the LSC with a punt return for a score this year.
HOT START ON DEFENSE
• The Lions have not allowed their opponents to score in the first quarter of a game this season.
• A&M-Commerce has a 52-0 advantage over its opponents in the first quarter.
TAKE THAT AND LIKE IT
• The Lion kicking game has been spectacular during the 2018 season.
• A&M-Commerce ranks first nationally in kickoff return defense, as Lion opponents average 8.82 yards per return. Only two schools in Division II average less than 10 yards per kickoff return allowed.
• In terms of punt return defense, the Lions now rank 20th nationally, allowing 3.0 yards per return. Lock Haven’s Nysir Minney-Gratz is the only player to attempt a return against the Lions this season.
• A&M-Commerce ranks seventh nationally in net punting. The Lions average 40.37 yards net per punt.
• Tristan Perry averages 43.2 yards per punt, which leads the Lone Star Conference and ranks 17th nationally.