ARLINGTON — Midwestern State rallied from a 23-point deficit to overtake the No. 7 Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions 31-30 in a Lone Star Conference football game at the newly-named Choctaw Stadium on Saturday.
The Mustangs trailed throughout the game, but took the lead with 25 seconds remaining on a 5-yard touchdown pass by Dillon Sterling-Cole to Sam Hodges followed by Ritse Vaes’ extra point kick.
A&M-Commerce received the ball near midfield thanks to a Midwestern State penalty on the ensuing kickoff return, but the Lions’ last-second Hail Mary attempt was broken up in the end zone as the Lions dropped to 1-1 for the season.
The Mustangs improved to 2-0 as the teams played before an official crowd of 6,712 at the former home stadium of the Texas Rangers. This is the first game of a two-year seriesat Choctaw.
A&M-Commerce jumped out to a 23-0 lead in the first half on touchdown passes of 3, 3 and 8 yards from quarterback Jaiave Magalei to receivers Kevin LeDee, Chance Cooper and Antonio Lealiiee, plus a 34-yard field goal by Jake Viquez.
Midwestern State began its comeback with a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Dylon Davis in the second quarter.
Vaes then booted a 42-yard field as the Mustangs cut A&M-Commerce’s lead down to 23-10 at halftime.
Eric Rodriguez spelled Magalei at quarterback and ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 12:22 left in the third quarter to cap a six-play, 76-yard drive. But that would be the Lions’ final touchdown.
Sterling-Cole, who was 16-of-26 passing for 163 yards, threw for three touchdowns in the second half, also including tosses of 6 yards to Kylan Harrison and 2 yards to Ja’Marzeyea Arvie.
Magalei wound up 13-of-28 for 197 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Lions.
Rodriguez was 4-of-7 for 18 yards.
Lealiiee led the Lion rushers with 95 yards on eight carries. Next were E.J. Thompson (7-45), J.T. Smith (4-43) and Rodriguez (6-10),
Cooper led the Lion receivers with five catches for 97 yards and Kenedy Snell had one catch for 52 yards.
Xavier Morris led the Lions defense with eight tackles while Michael Noble and Dominion Ezinwa both had seven stops. D’Angelo Ellis had an interception.
A&M-Commerce hosts No. 1 West Florida in the first “true” home game of 2021 on Saturday with the kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium. That game is the rematch of the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship game won by the Lions 37-27. Ticket information is at LionAthletics.Com/Tickets.