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Lions stunned by last-second loss

By Adam Troxtell
On October 18, 2010

A 21 yard passing touchdown from junior quarterback Nick Stephens to junior wide receiver Saalim Hakim with 40 seconds remaining in the game gave Tarleton State (2-5, 1-2) its second win of the season and sent A&M-Commerce to a 2-5 (1-2) record with a 34-31 loss.

The pass came at the end of a 9 play, 92-yard offensive drive by the Texans that began with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter. It was Stephens' second touchdown pass of the game. Stephens finished 17-33 for 280 yards and had one interception on the night. Hakim had four catches for 113 yards.

The game began in an unusual fashion, as the Texans attempted and recovered an onside kick. This led to a 24-yard field goal by freshman Blake Wiest to put the visitors up 3-0.

It took A&M-Commerce six plays and just over two minutes to respond on their next drive. Junior running back Marcus Graham broke through a few tackles and appeared to have rolled over onto a Tarleton defenseman to stay on his feet and get a 36-yard touchdown run. Graham was once again a main threat on the Lions offense, getting 127 yards off of 21 carries. After the extra point, the Lions took their first lead of the night at 7-3 with 7:21 left in the first quarter.

The ensuing Texans offensive drive was stopped short by A&M-Commerce junior defensive back Chez Thomas' second interception of the season. After fellow junior Michael Cleveland tipped the initial pass from Stephens in the air, Thomas caught the ball and set up the Lions offense on their opponents' 30-yard line. The Lions could only manage a 32-yard field goal from sophomore Ahmed Abo-Mahmood to give them a 10-3 lead.

The Texans answered just before the first quarter ended. Hakim made the big play of an 81-yard drive with a 49-yard catch. Jerome Regal ran in a 6-yard touchdown to tie the game up 10-10 with 38 seconds left in the opening frame.

Sophomore running back Jamar Mosley's three-yard run into the end-zone capped a 14 play, 74-yard drive by A&M-Commerce and put them up 17-10 in the second quarter. The touchdown was the first of two for Mosley on the night who got 22 yards off of eight carries in the game.

The Texans were forced to punt for the first time on their next drive. After an A&M-Commerce fumble on third down, Tarleton tied up the game once again. This time sophomore Jeken Frye caught an 11-yard pass from Stephens for the touchdown with 3:38 left in the first half.

Another long drive from A&M-Commerce gave them the halftime lead. On the eleventh play of a 70-yard march down the field, Mosley scored his second touchdown to put the Lions up 24-17.

The third quarter was fairly quiet, with only a 20-yard Wiest field goal to speak of. It came off of a 14-yard drive, which ate up 7:55 of the quarter.

After trading punts to start the fourth quarter, Tarleton junior Evan Robertson ran in a 21-yard touchdown to give the Texans the lead for the first time since the first quarter. Robertson had 85 yards off of 20 carries for the game.

A&M-Commerce answered with arguably the top play of the evening. Freshman running back London Hamilton was handed the ball, began his run, but was sent backwards by a collapsing line of scrimmage. After changing directions in the back field, he started forward once again and, getting a block from A&M-Commerce quarterback Adam Farkes, went 49-yards for a sensational touchdown to put the Lions up 31-27 with 10:14 left in the game.

"It just happened in the moment," Hamilton said about the touchdown run. "My O-line did they did, and I just finished the rest."

The Texans failed to respond on two offensive drives, and it began to look like the Lions would come out on top. A&M-Commerce were forced to punt with under three minutes left in the game, and put Tarleton on their own 8-yard line. This began the game winning drive.

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