COMMERCE — Showing some growth and development from the season opener, the Commerce won a battle of the Tigers Friday, Sept. 1, with a 50-27 victory over Sallisaw Central.
“We showed some improvement this week, but when you’re starting three freshmen along the defensive front, we’ve still got to continue to get better,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said. “That’s not the situation we want to be in, but we’re making the best of it.
“I thought they played better, but we got burned a few times on runs by a pretty good quarterback (Jace Beard),” Moss said. “Next week we’ll see an even better quarterback in Afton’s Will Amos, so it will be a real challenge for us.”
Commerce (1-1) remains at home for a 7 p.m. contest next Friday against the Afton Eagles.
Afton rolled to a 58-26 win Friday night at Colcord.
A blocked punt by the Commerce defense led to the only points in the first quarter.
Sophomore defensive back Caleb Eulitt blocked Jace Beard’s punt at the Commerce 37-yard line with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
Five plays later, Commerce received a 32-yard field goal by Hayden Moss to create a 3-0 lead at the 2:50 juncture.
Commerce needed only 47 seconds into the second quarter to add to its lead as tailback Chris Ibarra scored on a 3-yard run. Moss kicked the point-after at the 11:13 mark to give Commerce a 10-0 cushion.
During the 51-yard, three-play drive, Moss found Browning open for a 38-yard pass play before Ibarra scored.
On the ensuing kickoff, Central had a 94-yard touchdown run by Hayden Coughman nullified by a block in the back penalty.
After holding Central on downs, Ibarra received a punt by Beard and returned it 15 yards.
While being tackled, the ball popped loose and Lupe Prado returned it 54 yards for a Commerce TD. Moss kicked the PAT at 7:40 to produce a 17-0 Commerce margin.
A punt of only 4 yards by Beard gave Commerce another scoring chance midway through the second quarter.
Moss wasted no time and found Browning streaking down the sideline for a 36-yard TD pass. The extra point by Moss built a 24-0 advantage with 6:28 before half.
Commerce linebacker Ryan Dunbar intercepted a Beard pass on Central’s next possession and returned it to the Commerce 15-yard line.
Moss connected with Prado on a 14-yard touchdown pass as Commerce held a 30-0 margin at the 5:31 juncture.
The Central Tigers (1-1) finally put points on the board as Tanner Loggins caught a 47-yard TD pass from Beard on a crossing route. Rayne Nixon’s PAT with 2:27 before half created a 30-7 Central deficit.
The Moss-to-Browning duo clicked again for another 36-yard touchdown pass with 2:07 until intermission. Moss added the extra point for a 37-7 cushion.
Beard found Loggins open on a 49-yard pass play down to the Central 15-yard line on the next possession.
The drive ended on an 11-yard TD run by Bryce Edwards with 1:37 before halftime. Nixon added the PAT for a 37-14 deficit.
During the third quarter Browning scored on an 11-yard touchdown run off a reverse on a fourth-and-7 call by Commerce. The two-point conversion pass with 4:52 showing on the clock failed as Commerce maintained a 43-14 lead.
Beard scored from 13 yards out on a quarterback keeper with time winding down at 0:52 in the third quarter. Nixon’s point-after created a 43-21 deficit for Central.
Just three seconds into the fourth quarter, Ryan Dunbar scored on a 5-yard run and Moss tacked on the PAT for a 50-21 Commerce margin.
Taking to the air, Beard connected on passes of 23 yards to Kordell Jiles and 29 yards to Loggins before scoring on a 15-yard run with 9:39 left in the game. The extra point attempt sailed wide left.
Moss continued his pinpoint passing by completing 13 of 20 for 241 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
“He has worked all of his career to improve on his passing skills and now that hard work is showing up,” Steve Moss said. “We came into this game wanting to have a more balanced offense and we came close tonight.”
Chris Ibarra led Commerce both in rushing five carries for 100 yards and a touchdown and in receiving with seven catches for 109 yards.
Beard paced the Sallisaw Central offense with 109 yards rushing on 18 carries and two TDs while completing 18 of 28 passes for 281 yards and one touchdown.