COMMERCE — A pair of first-half defensive touchdowns turned out to be back-breakers as Commerce dropped a 40-22 decision to Galena, Kansas, here Friday, Sept. 4.
“We’ve got to eliminate mistakes,” Commerce head coach Steve Moss said.
A 59-yard fumble return gave the Bulldogs a 13-8 advantage with 2:00 left in the first quarter.
Then a 65-yard interception runback at 6:31 of the second ballooned the Galena lead to 20.
“If they don't have those, its 14-8 at halftime,” Moss said.
The Kansans grabbed a 7-0 lead in the opening four minutes of the game, but CHS went up 8-7 on a 20-yard run by Lance Hyatt and his ensuing conversion run.
That lasted only 1:49 because the runback of the fumble gave Galena the lead for good at 28-8.
“I hadn’t seen any film on them, but I knew they would be tough,” Moss said. “The last thing Galena was doing before corona hit (in March) was playing in the state semifinals in basketball, so they have some athletes
Ultimately, you have to give them all the credit in the world. They weren’t able to scrimmage. They weren’t able to so much of anything besides practice.
“They looked like they had played some games and we looked like we hadn’t scrimmaged at all.”
The Tigers picked up a pair of touchdowns from tailback Eric Cunningham in the second half, a 22-yard burst in the third quarter and a 10-yard sprint in the fourth.
He finished with 51 yards and the two scores on 10 carries.
That and the play of Hyatt at quarterback helped Moss decide who the starting signal caller would be the rest of the way.
Hyatt completed half of his eight pass attempts in the game, netting 94 yards.
The pair had rotated plays in the scrimmage season and in the first half of Friday’s opener.
“Now they can focus on where they are instead of trying to figure things out,” Moss said. “That will help us a lot. Eric is a good tailback. They are both good athletes. We had just been trying to decide on which one would be at which place. I think we finally got it figured out and we will go from there.”
The Tigers are at 2-0 Chelsea Friday night.
Chelsea crushed Nowata 63-14 Friday night.
The final non-district game is Sept. 18 against Kiefer.
Moss has made it a point to schedule as many difficult opponents in the opener and the first three games as possible.
The previous two years the Tigers opener with Adair, which reached the 2A quarterfinals the previous two years, and Sarcoxie, Missouri, which was 9-2 in 2017.
“I like to schedule these good teams early,” Moss said. “In the grand scheme of things, yeah, we all want to win every night, but I want to try to get the team as we can be when district comes around. They had some pretty good athletes
“It showed us things we need to work on and it showed us places where we need to get better.”