HENRYETTA — Overcoming a sluggish first quarter start for the second week in a row, the Commerce Tigers cruised to a 37-16 victory Friday, Sept. 15, over the Henryetta Knights.

With the win, the Tigers are 2-2 entering Class 2A-8 district play at 7 p.m. next Friday. Homecoming festivities will highlight the activities against Chelsea.

“Seems like we’ve had a problem getting started in the first quarter this year,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said. “We played the same way against Afton before we started putting points on the board.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Commerce took control of the game by building a 14-0 lead at halftime.

Henryetta took the opening kickoff and marched down to the Commerce 10 yard line.

Tiger freshman defensive tackle Kolby Dean forced and recovered a Knights fumble by quarterback Jarrett Day.

Covering 86 yards in a time consuming drive, Commerce reached its own goal line to start the second quarter.

Just 27 seconds into the second quarter, the Tigers reached the end zone as junior quarterback Hayden Moss scored on a 1-yard plunge. Moss kicked the extra point with 11:33 showing on the clock to produce a 7-0 Commerce lead.

Midway through the second quarter freshman running back Lance Hyatt concluded a 71-yard, five-play drive by the Tigers with a 2-yard TD run. Salvador Martinez kicked the point-after to give Commerce a 14-0 cushion with 6:59 before intermission.

“With Chris (Ibarra) still bothered by a knee injury he suffered against Sallisaw Central, I decided to give the freshman his first start,” coach Moss said. “He carried the ball some against Afton, but this was his first full varsity game.

“Even though we had a couple of long drives, we only had 100 yards in total offense for the entire first half,” coach Moss said. “We really started to put things together in the third quarter and generate some yards.

“The officials were kind of overly zealous in their desire to throw flags,” coach Moss said. “Combined, both teams finished with over 240 yards in penalties.”

Hyatt contributed a 5-yard touchdown run with 7:47 remaining in the third quarter as Commerce erupted for 16 straight points. The two-point conversion run failed as the Tigers maintained a 20-0 margin.

The Commerce defense created four turnovers (one fumble recovery and three interceptions) that resulted in 14 points.

Sophomore linebacker Caden Pickard returned an errant pass from Day, 15 yards for a touchdown at the 6:08 juncture in the third quarter. Hayden Moss kicked the PAT for a 27-0 Commerce lead.

At the 2-minute mark in the third quarter, Hayden Moss booted a 25-yard field goal as the Tigers carried a 30-0 lead into the final 12 minutes.

Facing a lineup to start the fourth quarter of mostly freshmen by the Commerce Tigers, Henryetta went to the air during a 3-minute span to score all their points.

Day connected with wide out Jeremiah Boyles for touchdown passes of 22 and 11 yards at both 9:56 and 6:26 showing on the clock. Both two-point conversion passes from Day to Boyles were good to create a 30-16 deficit for the Knights.

With time winding down in the game, Commerce running back Ryan Dunbar scored on a 2-yard run. Hayden Moss kicked the extra point with just 46 seconds showing on the clock for a 37-16 Tigers victory.

“We were able to execute of game plan of establishing the run once we got rolling,” coach Moss said. “Hyatt did a good job for us with 101 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns in his first start.”

Commerce generated 219 yards on 38 carries with four TDs by four ball carriers. Dunbar contributed 89 yards on 14 carries and one TD while Pickard added 16 yards on two attempts and Hayden Moss rushed for 13 yards on five carries and one touchdown.

Hayden Moss connected on 10 of 20 passes for 142 yards with two interceptions.

Senior wide out Lupe Prado Jr. led the Tigers with five receptions for 64 yards. Senior wide out Hunter Burkybile caught three passes for 52 yards while Dunbar snared two passes for 26 yards.

Along with two quarterbacks sacks, one each by Kiante Edwards and Zaine Cheater, the Commerce defense added one fumble recovery along with two interceptions by Prado Jr. and one each by Edwards and Pickard.

From his middle linebacker position, Dunbar led the Tigers defense with nine tackles while Cheater and Kolby Dean contributed seven total tackles each.

“Our defense played really well all night,” coach Moss. “Both of Henryetta’s scores came in the fourth quarter against mostly freshmen and their second touchdown came after we put several subs in the lineup.”