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TEXAS A&M-COMMERCE FOOTBALL PREVIEW: No. 23 Lions welcome Western New Mexico for 94th Homecoming Game

TEXAS A&M-COMMERCE FOOTBALL PREVIEW: No. 23 Lions welcome Western New Mexico for 94th Homecoming Game
  • PublishedOctober 25, 2019

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The No. 23 Texas A&M University-Commerce football team returns home as Lion Nation converges on Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium for the 94th Homecoming Game on Saturday against Western New Mexico.

WHO: Western New Mexico University at Texas A&M University-Commerce
WHERE: Commerce | Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium
WHEN: 3 p.m. on Saturday, October 26
RECORDS: A&M-Commerce is 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Lone Star Conference after falling to Tarleton, 35-21. Western New Mexico is 1-6 overall and 1-3 in the LSC after falling to Eastern New Mexico, 48-17, in the Chile Bowl last week.
RANKINGS: A&M-Commerce is ranked No. 23 in the AFCA Coaches’ Poll and No. 24 in the Media Poll. WNMU is unranked

TELEVISION: The game will be televised live on Nexstar stations throughout the Southwest – CHANNEL INFORMATION
LIVE AUDIO: Lion Sports Network — KETR 88.9 FM, Commerce (

• This is the fourth game between the Lions and Western New Mexico.
• A&M-Commerce is 3-0 all-time vs. WNMU.
• A&M-Commerce took a 38-24 win over WNMU in Silver City in 2016.
• The Lions earned a 52-3 win at home in 2017.
• A&M-Commerce routed WNMU 55-7 in Silver City in 2018. The Lions had three non-offensive touchdowns and scored 34 points in the second quarter of that game.

• The 2018 senior class claimed the school record for wins in a four-year period with 43 with a win at Minnesota Duluth in last year’s playoffs.
• The 2019 senior class tied that record with the win over Midwestern State, with their 43rd win in their 50th game.
• They are two games away from tying the school record for most games played by a senior class.
• This year’s senior class is also in second behind with the 1951-54 class for highest winning percentage by a class.

Years Record Pct
2016-19 43-8 84.3
2015-18 43-10 81.1
2014-17 42-10 80.8
1951-54 36-5-2 86.0
2013-16 35-14 71.4
1957-60 34-7 82.9
1972-75 32-13-1 70.6
1936-39 31-8 79.5
1990-93 31-16-1 65.6

• Lion Football head coach David Bailiff was hired in December 2018 as the 20th head football coach at A&M-Commerce.
• Since East Texas joined the Lone Star Conference as charter members in 1931, Bailiff is the 13th head coach of the Lions.
• He has won all five of his “firsts” games at A&M-Commerce

First Game NUEVO LEON Sept. 7 W 83-0
First Road Game at Western Oregon Sept. 14 W 34-27
First LSC Game EASTERN N.M. Sept. 21 W 45-27
First LSC Road Game at Tex. A&M-Kingsville Oct. 5 W 33-6
First National TV Game MIDWESTERN ST. Oct. 12 W 54-28
First Regional TV Game WESTERN N.M. Oct. 26

• Bailiff was the head coach at Texas State University from 2004-06 and at Rice University from 2007-17. The Lions’ 2019 season will be Bailiff’s 15th season as a collegiate head coach.
• As a collegiate head coach, Bailiff has led a team to the NCAA Division I National Semifinals and has made five total postseason appearances with a 5-2 postseason record.
• The 2005 Texas State Bobcats were Division I National Semifinalists, and Bailiff led the Rice Owls to four bowls with a 3-1 record in those games.
• Bailiff has led teams to 10-win seasons in three seasons (one at Texas State, two at Rice). Under his watch, the Owls had the most wins in school history over a two (18), three (25), and four (30) year periods. Rice’s 18-9 mark from 2013-14 was the second-best of any FBS program in Texas.


Year Coach Overall LSC
2019 David Bailiff 5-2 3-1
2013 Colby Carthel 7-5 2-4
2009 Guy Morriss 5-5 5-4
2004 Scotty Conley 4-6 4-5
1999 Eddie Brister 4-7 4-5
1986 Eddie Vowell 2-9 1-5
1964 Ernest Hawkins 2-7 1-5
1954 J.V. Sikes 6-3-1 5-0-1
1951 M.A. “Catfish” Smith 9-2 5-0
1946 Bob Berry 2nd Stint 5-2-2 3-1-1
1942 Dennis Vinzant Only Season 4-3-1 2-0-1
1935 Bob Berry 1st Stint 6-2-1 3-1
1931 J.W. Rollins 3-6

• By qualifying for their fourth straight NCAA Division II Playoff berth in 2018, the Lions have the third-longest active playoff streak in the nation.
• Only Northwest Missouri State (15 straight) and Ferris State (five straight) have longer active playoff streaks than A&M-Commerce.
• In Lone Star Conference history, only A&M-Kingsville (1992-98, 7 straight) has a streak of more than four appearances.
• The Lions have also advanced to the regional semifinal round for three consecutive seasons. National runner-up Ferris State has reached the regional semifinal four times in a row.

• The Lions held their grip in the top 25 at No. 23 nationally in the 2019 American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches’ Poll released Monday.
• A&M-Commerce has been ranked in 60 consecutive AFCA polls, dating back to the 2015 preseason poll.
• This is A&M-Commerce’s 66th all-time appearance in the AFCA poll since its inception in 2000.
• In the polls recognized by Division II as the top rating system, the Lions have been recognized as a nationally ranked team 115 times since joining Division II in 1981.

• Quarterback Miklo Smalls has established himself as one of the most accurate efficient passers in the LSC and Division II.
• In six eligible games, Smalls has won the LSC Offensive Player of the Week award twice.
• Last week at Tarleton, he had season highs with 29 completions, 39 attempts, and 288 yards.
• Against Midwestern State, Smalls completed 70.3 percent of his passes in the game with five touchdown passes and 186 yards through the air. He also had 24 rushing yards.
• He completed passes to nine different receivers, and all five touchdowns were caught by different receivers.
• He now has a 14:2 touchdown to interception ratio in conference play
• He also won Lone Star Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for his game against Eastern New Mexico, completing 13-of-15 passes for 243 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.
• His passing efficiency rating of 297.413 in that game is the second-best single-game performance by a quarterback in Division II this season.
•His 86.7 completion percentage in the game is seventh-best in the nation this year of passers with 15 or more attempts in a game.
•His 72.8 percent (123-of-169) completion percentage for the season ranks fifth in Division II.


Date Game C A I Yds TD Effic Comp Pct
9/14 at Western Oregon 24 32 0 240 1 148.31 75.0
9/21 Eastern N.M. 13 15 1 243 4 297.41 86.7
9/28 at CSU-Pueblo 24 36 1 235 0 115.94 66.7
10/5 at Tex. A&M-Kingsville 14 20 0 222 3 212.74 70.0
10/12 Midwestern State 19 27 0 186 5 189.35 70.3
10/19 at Tarleton 29 39 1 288 2 148.18 74.4
Total 123 169 3 1,414 15 168.80 72.8

• Junior defensive back and return specialist Dominique Ramsey has been one of the most electric players in all of Division II whenever he touches the ball.
• He is a double major student-athlete in mathematics and electrical engineering.
• In the Midwestern State game, he recorded 150 all-purpose yards, including a highlight reel 65-yard kickoff return to open the game and set the Lions’ first score up on a short field. He also dazzled on two scintillating punt returns. The Lions scored within five plays after each of his kick and punt returns.
• All told, Ramsey had 65 kick return yards, 48 punt return yards, 14 interception yards, 15 rushing yards, and 8 receiving yards.
• He had two interceptions in the game, including a key snag in the end zone near the end of the first half to snuff out an MSU scoring threat which would have narrowed the deficit in a key spot. He also had an interception to help seal the game in the fourth quarter. He also made five key tackles in open space on the perimeter to limit MSU yards after the line of scrimmage.
• At Tarleton, he had a 55-yard kickoff return on the way to 112 return yards with 95 kickoff return yards and 17 punt return yards. He also had eight tackles.
• Earlier this season, his 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the ENMU game earned him Lone Star Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
• He became the first player in the Lone Star Conference to return a punt for a touchdown this season, averaging 35 yards per punt return .

• He now has five career returns for touchdowns:

Date Type Opponent Yards
9/21/19 Punt EASTERN N.M. 55
11/17/18 Punt at Minnesota Duluth 79
11/10/18 INT ANGELO ST. 99
10/27/18 INT WEST TEXAS A&M 84
9/22/18 Punt COLORADO ST.-PUEBLO 72

• He currently ranks second in the LSC and fourth nationally in punt return average at 16.2 yards per return.
• He also ranks first in the LSC and second nationally in kickoff return average at 34.2 yards per return.

• The Lions have been exceptional in responding to the rare loss in the last few seasons.
• The last time A&M-Commerce lost consecutive games was 2016, with a loss in the LSC playoff championship game followed by a loss at Ferris State in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
• The last time A&M-Commerce lost consecutive regular season games was in 2013, with losses to No. 4 West Texas A&M and No. 23 Midwestern State in weeks 3 and 4.
• In the last eight games after a loss, the Lions have picked up a win, dating back to the 2016 season opener after ending the 2015 season at Ferris State.

• Senior linebacker Neema Behbahani has been one of the most consistent players on defense in his four years with the Lions, and he is the team’s leader in total tackles over the course of his career.
• The Plano Senior high product is the team’s career leader in total tackles, solo tackles, assisted tackles, and tackles for loss.

Player Solo Ast Total TFL Sack INT PBU FR FF BLK
2016 27 23 50 1.0 0 1 1 0 0 0
2017 40 29 69 7.0 1.5 0 2 1 0 0
2018 30 29 59 11.0 2.5 0 1 1 0 0
2019 11 14 25 2.5 1.0 0 2 0 0 0
Behbahani 108 95 203 21.5 5.0 1 6 2 0 0

• Redshirt junior safety Alex Shillow has led the team in tackles in two games.
• The NCAA Division II National SAAC Chair recovered a fumble on kickoff coverage in the first half of the ENMU game and the Midwestern State game to set up Lion scores in each situation.
• He returned a blocked PAT for two points in the late stages of the second quarter at A&M-Kingsville.
• His 151 career tackles ranks third on the team behind
Behbahani and Mark Westbrook.
• Westbrook has 154 career stops from various linebacker and safety positions over the years.
• Westbrook reached the 100 career solo tackle mark at A&M-Kingsville.
• Westbrook also recovered a fumbled punt in the endzone at CSU-Pueblo.

• A number of Lions are nearing or recently passed the century mark in career tackles from a variety of positions.
• Jalon Edwards-Cooper led all players with 13 tackles at Tarleton to move to 105 career tackles, while Dominique Ramsey‘s eight stops pushed him to 101 total tackles.

Player Year Position Tackles
Jalon Edwards-Cooper R-Sr. DB 105
Dominique Ramsey Jr. DB 101
Pierre Leonard Sr. DT 98
Peyton Searcy R-Sr. DT 90

• Senior linebacker Terrell Collins leads the Lions with 39 total tackles this season.
• His 6.5 tackles per game has moved him into the ranking of top tacklers in the Lone Star Conference.
• He ranks 15th in the LSC in tackles per game.

• Junior kicker Jake Viquez extended his career-long in field goals with a 44-yarder at CSU-Pueblo.
• For the season, he is 7-of-8 on field goal attempts and a perfect 25-of-25 on PAT attempts.
• His 7.7 kicking points per game ranks second the LSC.
• Including the career of Lion Legend Kristov Martinez, the Lions have now made an NCAA Division II-record 128 consecutive PATs, dating back to the Eastern New Mexico game in 2017.
• This record only counts kicked PATs with successful snaps and holds. No two-point attempts – including failed snaps – are counted in this record.
• The previous record lasted 36 years, when Liberty made 123 PATs from 1976 through September 1983.

• Junior punter Andrew Gomez ranks first in the LSC and 11th in the nation in punt average at 42.7 yards per boot.
• The Lion coverage has been excellent as well, as TAMUC leads the LSC and ranks 11th in the nation in net punting at 38.44 yards per punt.
• The Lions also lead the league in punt return defense at 6.57 yards per return.

• The Lions will be playing their 94th Homecoming game this week, continuing a tradition which dates back to 1928.
• That game was a 13-12 Lions’ win over North Texas.
• The Lions are 57-35-1 (.618) all-time on Homecoming.
• A&M-Commerce has won the last five Homecoming games and is 5-4 in this decade.
• This game marks the second time the Lions have played Western New Mexico on Homecoming, defeating the Mustangs 52-3 in 2017.
• The first six Homecoming games from 1928-38 were played only in even-numbered years, when the Lions hosted North Texas.
• The current five-year Homecoming winning streak is the longest since a nine-game streak from 1964-72.
• A sixth straight Homecoming win would tie the second-longest streak in school history.


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