COMMERCE — Unable to rebound from a 14-7 halftime deficit, the Commerce Tigers dropped a 36-14 decision Friday, Nov. 3, on their home field to the Adair Warriors in a battle for the District 2A-8 regular season title.
Commerce finishes 5-1 in the district and 7-3 overall while Adair enters the first round of the state playoffs with a 6-0 district mark and an 8-2 season record.
The Tigers open first round play Friday, Nov. 10, by hosting the Salina Wildcats.
Adair is at home next week against the Colcord Hornets.
“It seemed all night that we would get some momentum and then, they would make a play to stop us,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said. “We came out late in the third quarter and scored to make it 22-14 and on the very next play (Jacob) Lappe returns the kickoff 60 yards to our 20.
“We have all the momentum in the world and bam, we have a player seriously hurt on the return and it takes the momentum away,” coach Moss said. “But that’s the way life is some time and we’ve tried to teach our kids about overcoming adversity.”
Freshman special teams player Caleb Eulitt suffered a severe leg injury after getting blindsided on the return by Lappe.
He remained on the field for 20 minutes as emergency personal worked to stabilize the injury and take him by ambulance to a hospital.
All-in-all throughout the game, the Tigers lost five players to various injuries.
“I’m not trying to make any excuses because that’s part of the game sometimes,” coach Moss said. “We’ve got 36 guys on the team and I had to put players in positions that they weren’t prepared for.
“I’m very proud of the kids,” Moss said. “They played very hard. At one point, every flanker I had was out and I would send a player in and tell him that Coach (Logan) Cawyer was calling plays and I would tell them where to run.”
Commerce parlayed a fumble recovery by defensive end Kolby Dean into the first score of the night.
Adair quarterback Austin Hines fumbled the ball after a short run and Dean recovered it at the Warriors’ 17-yard line.
Five plays later, running back Chris Ibarra scored on a 2-yard plunge. Hayden Moss kicked the point-after to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead with 6:33 left in the first quarter.
After trading turnovers deep in Commerce territory, the Warriors drove 19 yards in four plays with 8:32 left until halftime.
Hines concluded the drive with a 2-yard sneak before adding the two-point conversion run for an 8-7 Adair lead.
A fumble by Ibarra following a 26-yard run was recovered by Adair’s Barrett Bradbury at the Commerce 28-yard line.
Hines found Bradbury open on a 28-yard touchdown pass to give the Warriors a 14-7 margin with 19 seconds showing on the clock. Hines was denied the two-point conversion run.
Midway through the third quarter, Hines completed five passes for 49 yards before wide out Garrett Long snared an 8-yard TD pass. The Long-from-Hines combo connected for the two-point conversion to create a 22-7 Adair lead.
Commerce quarterback Hayden Moss found Trevor Browning open on a 40-yard pass play to the Adair 12 yard line.
Ibarra concluded the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run and Hayden Moss booted the PAT for a 22-14 deficit with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
Following a 20-minute delay as emergency personnel tended to Eulitt, Adair covered 20 yards in three plays.
Hines hit Bryce Martin with a 16-yard TD pass and also scored the two-point conversion as time expired for a 30-14 lead by Adair.
During the fourth quarter Warrior running back Jacob Lappe broke several tackles en route to a 57-yard touchdown run. The conversion run failed to create the 36-14 final.