Football team in NCAA playoff game Nov. 28

Samuel Sutton

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Derek Lockhart, sports and leisure senior, walks along the field with Brandon Gordon, education senior, and the team after winning the Lone Star Conference Championship, beating Texas A&M – Commerce 37-33 Nov. 14. Photo by Francisco Martinez

Derek Lockhart, sports and leisure senior, walks along the field with Brandon Gordon, education senior, and the team after winning the Lone Star Conference Championship, beating Texas A&M – Commerce 37-33 Nov. 14. Photo by Francisco Martinez

After a 37-33 comeback victory over Texas A&M –Commerce, the football team will play in the NCAA playoffs at 1 p.m., Nov. 28 at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls. In addition, MSU moved ahead one spot to claim the No. 9 spot in the American Football Coaches’ Association’s final regular season poll, the highest ranking the team has received since a No. 8 finish in 2012.

“It was a tremendous privilege to get this win. There may have been some problems, but it doesn’t matter. We’re champions, and we take that to heart,” head football coach Bill Maskill said.

After the game, the players were running all over the field with excitement after they finished shaking hands with the opposing team. They huddled together and threw the LSC Champship T-shirts up in the air, while holding the trophy high above so the crowd could see.

Darian Childers-Brown, a defensive lineman, and a kinesiology junior, said, “I’m at a loss for words with this. I can’t believe we did it. I hope we keep this success going.”

The team struggled a little bit on defense in the third quarter, which almost lost them the game.

“We need to tighten up on defensive. It was an amazing win, but we can’t give up touchdowns like that again,” Childers-Brown said.

It’s the fourth time MSU has won 10 games in season previously achieving the feat in 1949, 2006 and 2011.

In their first-round playoff game, the Mustangs face the winner of the No. 4/5 game as Indianapolis travels to face Colorado State-Pueblo next  Saturday in Pueblo.

Play by play

The game was back and fourth through the first half, as both teams had almost an equal amount of punts. The first try for points was failed when Andy Alkhazshvilly missed a field goal from the 25-yard line. It was back and fourth again for a few drives after the missed kick until Lance Evans finally put the first points on the board with a touchdown catch from the 47 yard line, making it 7-0, Texas A&M Commerce.

On the next offensive series for the Mustangs, Vincent Johnson scored a quick red-zone touchdown run to tie it up, 7-7 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.  Commerce wouldn’t be kept down though, scoring a field goal on their team’s next offensive series, making it 10-7 with 1:52 left in the first.

The next score didn’t come until the middle of the second quarter when the Mustangs’ offense marched down and scored a field goal by Alkhazshvilly, tying it up, 10-10. Commerce couldn’t do anything with their next offensive drive, and when they tried to punt, the Mustangs’ special teams were able to block the punt, and take it back for a touchdown, making it 17-10.

Another score came at the end of the first half, when Derrick Macon caught a long touchdown pass for Commerce, tying the game up, 17-17.

The football players celebrate their victory in the Lone Star Conference Championship game against Texas A&M-Commerce, by posing for a group photo while Brandon Gordon, education senior, holds up the trophy, Nov. 14.

The football players celebrate their victory in the Lone Star Conference Championship game against Texas A&M-Commerce, by posing for a group photo while Brandon Gordon, education senior, holds up the trophy, Nov. 14.

The second half was full of points for commerce, and Macon became a big part of that. He scored another touchdown in the middle of the third quarter, putting them in the lead, 24-17. He didn’t stop there. After another punt by the Mustangs’ special teams, he scored yet another touchdown, making it 30-17, scoring only six due to a missed extra point.

The next Mustangs’ score came at the end of the third, when Hagen Hutchinson ran the ball in for a quick red-zone touchdown, making it 30-24. After that, touchdowns became pretty slim for a while. The next score was a field goal by Martinez, putting Commerce in the lead 33-24.

After plenty of struggles, the Mustangs’ started to connect, and play like a team. In the middle of the fourth, the defense forced a fumble, and gave the offense the ball at the 39 yard line. The offense put their next possession to good use, throwing a touchdown pass to Arsenio Phillips, making it 33-31, Commerce.

The next time the defense came out onto the field, Harold Wills was able to get an interception for a touchdown, putting the team in the lead, 37-33 after a failed two-point conversion. The team got another interception on the next defensive series, which sealed the game up in Commerce.

Harold Wills, a criminal justice senior, and the player who made the game-winning touchdown interception, was incredibly humble after the game, giving his team and coach all of the credit for his play.

“The coach put me in the right spot to make the play, and it was all just the right place and the time,” Wills said.

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