COMMERCE — It depends on whom you talk to after a 35-14 victory by Commerce against Afton in the District A-6 opener.
“It’s always good to start the district with a win,” CHS head coach Steve Moss said. “I am proud of our kids for holding them to what they got.”
“We just didn't match their intensity anywhere on the field,” Afton head coach Corey Henry said. “They came out and expected to play with it. I think we lost grip of who we are. That is something we will have to do.”
Commerce had lost two of its first three games while Afton had a two-game winning streak end.
The Tigers carried a 14-6 lead into the half then after a scoreless third quarter got three touchdowns from Caden Pickard on runs of 8, 57 and 1 yard to pull away.
“We had shot ourselves in the foot so many times in the second quarter and third quarter,” Moss said. “I think we ended up with 16 penalties. We were moving the ball and get a holding or fumble a snap or fumble the ball. We were just killing ourselves in the second and third then finally stopped doing that in the fourth.”
The Eagles’ only touchdown of the second half came with 8:57 of the fourth quarter on an 88-yard pass from Brent Fuser to Jessie Saylor.
Fuser also handled the conversion, cutting CHS’ lead to 21-14.
“I was disappointed with the effort we got from the kids,” Henry said. “We’re a better football team than what we showed.”
Pickard, who had a 5-yard TD run in the first quarter and a 65-yarder late in the second, finished with 187 yards on 16 carries.
Quarterback Eric Cunningham completed nine of his 13 passes for 191 yards
“He’s finally getting healthy; still not 100 percent (Achilles tendonitis) so that’s slowed him down quite a bit,” Moss said. “When he’s out there, we are definitely a lot better. It’s good to see him come back around. We’ve got to give him breaks.”
Just as Cunningham and Pickard had big nights for CHS, Fuser excelled for the Eagles.
He completed 5 of 13 passes for 150 yards and two scores and rushed for a team-high 48 yards.
Both of Saylor’s catches in the game were on the scoring plays.
Commerce travels to Colcord while the Eagles entertain Quapaw on Friday, Oct. 4.
“I think this district so evenly matched,” Henry said. “Like it was several years ago: everyone has a good football team. You can’t afford to have a bad week. We told the kids we have to handle our business from here on out; don't let this speed bump knock us off the path because we’re still a good football team.
“We just have to keep playing our type of football.”