Mustangs meet Lions at Cowboys Stadium in Lone Star Festival
Texas A&M-Commerce returns to one of the world's preeminent sporting venues, taking to the turf at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington as the opening game of the 2012 Lone Star Football Festival. The game marks the Lions' 2012 Lone Star Conference opener as A&M-Commerce will battle 16th-ranked Midwestern State at 8 p.m ET Thursday.
When A&M-Commerce and Midwestern State hit the field, fans across the country can watch it live on national television. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the game as the showdown with the Mustangs has been selected as the Division II National Game of the Week. Brad Johansen and Doug Chapman will broadcast the action with Lisa Byington serving as the sideline reporter. The game will also be streamed on NCAA.com.
In addition to being the kickoff to the 2012 Lone Star Football Festival and the Division II National Game of the Week, Thursday's game takes on yet an even greater significance for A&M-Commerce as it marks the fifth annual Harvey Martin Classic. The game is named after former Lions All-American and national champion Harvey Martin, who went on to a stellar career with the Dallas Cowboys, earning Super Bowl co-MVP honors in Super Bowl XII and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
Martin was also named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1977 and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1970's. The Lions began honoring Martin in 2008, playing the first three games at the Cotton Bowl before moving to Cowboys Stadium in 2011.
Thursday marks the 17th meeting between A&M-Commerce and Midwestern State with the Lions leading the all-time series 11-5. A&M-Commerce dominated the early part of the rivalry, winning the first 10 meetings between 1947 and 2000. The Mustangs have won five of the last six, including last year's 63-17 thrashing at Cowboys Stadium - the first meeting between the two since 2005.
A&M-Commerce posted a strong showing in its first game against an FBS opponent last week, rallying in the second half before falling to UTSA 27-16 in front of more than 30,000 fans at the Alamodome. After allowing an early field goal and touchdown to the Roadrunners, A&M-Commerce cut the deficit to 10-3 off a Jacob O'Neil early in the second quarter. UT-San Antonio would add two late touchdowns, extending their lead to 24-3 at halftime. But after allowing a Roadrunner field goal early in the third quarter to fall behind at 27-3, the Lions started to find their rhythm and outscored UT-San Antonio 13-0 through the game's final 25 minutes.
Deric Davis connected with Garrett Smith for a 61-yard touchdown strike in the third quarter, the Lions' longest play from scrimmage in 2012. Davis then hit Tevin Godfrey with a five yard pass on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the gap to 27-16. But turnovers and miscues prevented A&M-Commerce from trimming the gap any closer. The Lions held a 193 to 159 advantage in passing yards against the Roadrunners, but A&M-Commerce was able to generate just 16 rushing yards, compared to 172 for UT-San Antonio. Defensively, Joel Wren led the way with 12 tackles while Danny Mason added nine for the Lions.
Midwestern State lost its season opener a week ago to Tarleton State, falling out of the top five in the latest AFCA Division II poll. The Mustangs are coming off a season-opening loss for the first time since 2000 and the first time in the Bill Maskill era.
The Mustangs return five All-Americans from 2011. Quarterback Brandon Kelsey was fourth in the Harlan Hill voting and was third team on the Don Hansen squad and honorable mention by the Beyond Sports College Network. Guard Ken Van Heule was second team on the Hansen and third team on the BSCN team. Running back Keidrick Jackson was an honorable mention on both the D2Football.com and Hansen teams. Center Justen Tyler was an honorable mention on the Hansen and BCSN teams and deep snapper Randall Arbuckle was first team on the BSCN team.