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Lions stunned by RiverHawks

A&M-Commerce's 38-7 defeat is first loss to Northeastern State since 2006

By Adam Troxtell
On October 12, 2010

The A&M-Commerce football team suffered their first loss to Northeastern State University since 2006 on Saturday afternoon, falling on the losing end of a 38-7 final score in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The result comes as somewhat of a shock, as the RiverHawks were picked to finish fifth in the Lone Star Conference North Division compared to A&M-Commerce's first place prediction. The Lions are now 2-4 (1-2) on the season, while Northeastern State moves to the top of the LSC North table with a 3-3 (3-2) record.

"I think we're to a crossroads," Head Coach Guy Morriss said after the surprise loss. "We've got to make up our mind: do we want to be a football team, or are we just going to be a bunch of wannabes."

After trading punts, Northeastern State junior cornerback Nate Robinson made a one-handed interception on Lions quarterback Adam Farkes's pass. This gave the RiverHawks offense great field position on the A&M-Commerce 7-yard line, but the Lions defense held firm, forcing NSU freshman Drew Patton to kick a 25-yard field goal to put the home team up 3-0.

The Lions' next possession ended with a three-and-out. Behind junior quarterback Kenny Davis, who was 13-23 for 212 yards, the RiverHawks drove 75 yards, and senior wide receiver Ben Randle caught a 27-yard pass from Davis for the game's first touchdown. After the point-after try was good, NSU went up 10-0.

On the following offensive drive, A&M-Commerce put together their best offensive display of the afternoon. An eight-play, 55-yard drive in the second quarter ended with an eight-yard touchdown run by junior running back Marcus Graham, who had 79 yards off of 20 rushing attempts on the afternoon.

NSU responded with a rushing touchdown on the next possession. Senior running back Josh Lewis ran in a 12-yard touchdown to cap an eight-play drive and put the RiverHawks up 17-7 with 10:22 left in the first half. Lewis was among the top players for the NSU offense, with 15 carries for 96 yards.

Randle got his second touchdown catch of the game with just over four minutes left in the first half. Davis lobbed a pass to the back corner of the end zone, and Randle went up to complete the six-yard touchdown under pressure. With the point-after field goal complete, NSU took a 24-7 lead into halftime.

The third quarter started with a breath of life for A&M-Commerce. On the kickoff, the ball bounced off the chest of an NSU player and Lions freshman Cortney Craig recovered it at the RiverHawks 41-yard line. On the seventh play of that drive, Farkes threw his second interception of the game. NSU's Robinson caught the under-thrown Farkes pass for his second interception of the afternoon.

Sean Donahue then caught Davis's third touchdown pass of the game on a 16-yard throw to give the home team a 31-7 lead. Farkes then threw his third interception of the game to freshman linebacker Jack Gray, ending the Lions following drive. Farkes was 13-25 for 74 yards in passing for the afternoon. There were question marks before the game began about his fitness after he injured his thumb in mid-week practice.

"He got his thumb hit on a helmet again this week, and was really sore," Morriss said. "But, I don't think he would use it as an excuse, and I'm not either."

NSU could not do much with the possession, and was forced to punt. The Lions had to do the same, and this time the RiverHawks put together a 14-play, 74-yard drive, finished off by a five-yard touchdown run by junior running back Chris Davis. The NSU offense had 487 yards on the afternoon, compared to the Lions188 yards off of 53 plays.

"We just didn't play very well," Morriss said. "Nobody showed up today. We emptied the playbooks; everything on those wristbands was called. It's a combination of a lot of young players too, that are making mistakes. But, for us not to play hard, that's the thing really troubling me."

Graham said he put the poor performance down to lack of motivation.

"I think everything worked," he said. "What it really comes down to is heart. We've got to play with heart, always think positive, and even when we feel bad, we can't give up."

The Lions are now second from bottom of the LSC-North Division ahead of a televised game against Tarleton State University at home this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

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