Southeastern Oklahoma State 31, A&M-Commerce 6
Location: Memorial Stadium • Commerce, Texas
Records: A&M-Commerce (0-1); Southeastern Oklahoma State (1-0)
Up Next: at UT-San Antonio • Saturday, Sept. 8 • 1 p.m. • Alamodome
COMMERCE, Texas – A&M-Commerce struggled to find its footing in the season opener at Memorial Stadium, falling behind early as it drops a 31-6 decision to Southeastern Oklahoma State.
With a handful of new faces, especially on the offensive side of the ball, the Lions were eager to see some results right out of the gates. But the offensive was unable to find its groove as A&M-Commerce generated just 185 yards of total offense, compared to 335 for the Savage Storm.
Quarterback Deric Davis completed 12 of 26 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown, while Tyler Rawlings emerged as Davis' favorite target, hauling in five catches for 60 yards. Tevin Godfrey accounted for 18 yards on a pair of catches, including the Lions' lone touchdown, while Jamar Mosley had three receptions out of the backfield for 16 yards.
One of the main struggles in 2011 for A&M-Commerce was its inability to run the ball, and it appears that may be an issue in 2012 as well as the Lions accumulated just 47 yards on the ground off 17 attempts. Godfrey led the way with 32 yards on two carries while Mosely added 10 yards on five touches while Marcus French rushed four times for nine yards.
One of the main reasons for the Lions' inability to establish any momentum on offense was the lack of time on the field as Southeastern Oklahoma State held a monster edge in time of possession, holding onto the ball for just under 40 minutes, leaving the A&M-Commerce offense with just 20 minutes to work with.
That extra time on the field for the Lion defense proved to be too much, although a number of players had impressive performances. Danny Mason set a career-best with 16 tackles, including nine unassisted and a sack, while Joel Wren and J.T. Bates each added eight stops on the night. Marlin Terrell was second behind Mason in the solo tackle category, recording seven.
The teams were even through the majority of the first quarter as both seemed to be trying to work out some first-game jitters. Near the end of the stanza, the Lions seemed to be clicking, moving the ball deep into Savage Storm territory. But SEOSU linebacker Houston Slemp stepped in front of a Davis pass and returned it the distance, rumbling 79 yards to put the Savage Storm on top 7-0 at the end of the first.
Southeastern Oklahoma would add a 28-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, then CJ Kirk broke off a 23-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes remaining as the Lions found themselves down 17-0 at intermission.
The first drive of the second half looked promising for A&M-Commerce as the Lions moved the ball down the field and stringing together a 10-play, 70-yard drive that spanned just under six minutes. Davis capped the drive by finding Godfrey in the back of the endzone for a three-yard score. But in another trend from 2011, the extra point was botched as A&M-Commerce was only able to cut the deficit to 17-6.
That scoring drive was quickly matched by the Storm, covering 71 yards in just four plays to take the lead at 24-6 thanks to a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jercolby Bradley to Anthony Gale.
Needing a stop to try and generate a comeback at the start of the fourth quarter, A&M-Commerce seemed to have momentum on their side as the Lions were able to pin Southeastern Oklahoma down at the one-yard line off a punt right at the beginning of the fourth quarter. But the Savage Storm put together arguably one of the best time-consuming drives in Memorial Stadium history, covering 99 yards in 16 plays and burning 12 minutes off the clock before Kirk ran it in from one yard out to put the Storm up 31-6 and sealing the Lions' season-opening fate.
With the victory, Southeastern Oklahoma State snaps a two-game skid to A&M-Commerce and improves to 9-8-1 in the all-time series record. The Savage Storm also improved to 6-4-1 in games in Commerce while the Lions have now dropped two-straight season openers and nine of their last 11.
The journey doesn't get any easier for head coach Guy Morriss' squad as the Lions now face an even bigger challenge as it prepares for an historic trip to the Alamo City. A&M-Commerce will play its first-ever game against a Division I FBS program when it visits UT-San Antonio at the Alamodome on Saturday, September 8. Kickoff against the Roadrunners is set for 1 p.m.