COMMERCE — A tough non-district schedule got Commerce ready for a night like this.
The Tigers used a big second half to coast to a 36-14 victory over Colcord in a key District A-6 clash here Friday, Sept. 28.
“It was 14-14 at halftime I told the guys they haven’t had a close game yet and that you guys have been through the fire. ‘It’s going to pay off’ and it did,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said.
The Hornets (4-1 overall and 1-1 in the district) stunned Commerce at the end of each quarter in the first half.
Raven Difrancisco returned a punt 65 yards as time expired in the first quarter then added a 4-yard Francisco run with 26 seconds in the half to forge a 14-14 tie.
But the tide turned the Tigers’ way in the third when Chris Ibarra scored on a 23-yard run on their first possession, then he added a 2-yard run just under four minutes later to open up a 15-point lead.
Commerce put the game away when quarterback Hayden Moss punched the ball in from the 1 with 7:45 remaining.
“I knew we would have to play well,” Moss said. “We’d had a couple games where I didn’t know what team was going to show up. I knew our kids were capable of doing that.”
This was the fifth week in a row that the Tigers have gone with a different offensive line.
“Our offensive line was the offensive player of the game because they made holes and they blocked well,” Steve Moss said. “It was our best offensive line performance by far. It’s great to see because I think we found the right mix and they are starting to come around and play well together.”
The Tigers went with senior Juan Herrera at center, sophomore Kolby Dean at even guard, senior Brandon Brown at even tackle, sophomore Austin Hart at odd guard and junior Ty Houston at odd tackle.
‘Ty really played well — he had a lot of good blocks off his edge,” Steve Moss said. “Hopefully the o-line is starting to gel and that will help us a lot.”
Caden Pickard had the first Commerce touchdown, catching a 1-yard pass from Hayden Moss at the 5:55 mark of the opening frame.
Ibarra was the leading rusher for the Tigers with 178 yards on 24 carries.
He also scored on a 43-yard run early in the second period.
Ryan Dunbar added 55 yards as the Tigers generated 243 total yards rushing.
Hayden Moss completed 3 of 13 passes for 13 yards.
Ibarra, Oscar Gutierrez and Caden Pickard each caught a pass.
Blake Gonzales netted 124 yards on 21 attempts for the Hornets.
Difrancisco, who ran for 13 yards and one TD, also completed 9 of 21 passes for 110 yards.
Brandon Kelley, Ryan Dunbar and Ibarra were the defensive leaders for Commerce.
Kelley had four tackles and 12 assists, Dunbar three tackles and 12 assists and Ibarra three tackles and nine assists.
The Tigers sacked Difrancisco five times. Seth Hailey and Jayke Murphy had two each and Kolby Dean logged one
The game was the National Guard Game of the Week. Both teams were outfitted in camouflage uniforms.
Commerce travels to Fairland on Friday, Oct. 5.