RIVERTON, Kan. — Unable to put points on the scoreboard in the last three quarters, the Commerce Tigers dropped a 40-12 decision to the Riverton Rams Friday night at Rams Stadium.
“You can’t take anything away from Riverton because they are a good football team,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said. “It was just a situation where they executed when they had to and we didn’t.
“We misfired on a couple of extra points in the first quarter, or we would have had the lead,” Moss said. “It remained 13-12 until five minutes before halftime and then they broke a 60-yard run that set up a 10-yard touchdown run and then as the clock was running down for halftime, they scored on a 13-yard run to lead 25-12 at half.”
Rams quarterback junior Greyson Spriggs gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about by connecting with sophomore wide receiver Chandler Underhill on a 46-yard touchdown pass to with 9:26 left in the first quarter. Nolan Wall kicked the extra point for a 7-0 Riverton lead.
The Tigers responded with consecutive touchdown passes from quarterback Braden Smith to built a 7-0 lead.
Smith found senior running back Ricky Watkins open for a 27-yard TD pass at the 7:21 juncture in the first quarter, but the two-point conversion pass failed as the Tigers trailed by a 7-6 margin.
After the Commerce defense forced a three-and-out series, Smith went to the air again and connected with sophomore wide out Gabe Shelton for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 5:49 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick failed as the Tigers clung to a slim 12-7 lead.
Spriggs rallied the Rams as the first quarter expired with a 10-yard touchdown run before Underhill tacked on a 13-yard TD run and KeeShawn Walker exploded for a 28-yard scoring run to give Riverton a 25-12 cushion at intermission. The Rams missed all three extra point attempts.
“It would have been one thing to go into the half trailing 19-12, but when Walker scored right before the break, it kind of set us back on our heals,” Moss said. “But, our kids responded well and came out and played real hard in the third quarter.
“We kept ‘punching each other in the month’ during the third quarter and neither one of us could score,” Moss said. “We did get down to their 25-yard line, but we couldn’t finish the drive.”
During the fourth quarter the Rams received a 35-yard touchdown pass as the Spriggs-to-Underhill duo clicked. Spriggs hit wide receiver Hunter Deckard for the two-point conversion pass to increase Riverton’s lead to a 33-12 advantage with 9:36 remaining in the game.
The Rams received a 9-yard touchdown run by Jake Neal and Wall kicked the point-after with 4:49 left on the clock.
Spriggs led the Riverton ground game with 116 yards on 16 carries and one TD while completing 11 of 15 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Underhill led the Rams receiving corps with three receptions for 105 yards and one TD.
“We didn’t have any major breakdowns, they just executed their offense,” Moss said. “We got some good leadership from our seniors by the way they kept encouraging our younger players to keep playing.
“I think our team chemistry will get stronger with this loss because now they know what it takes to win week-after-week,” Moss said. “We’ll see how they respond next week.”
With the loss the Tigers are 2-1 on the season while the Rams are 3-0 overall.
Commerce opens defense of their District A-8 crown next Friday with a 7 p.m. contest at Ketchum.