Last Friday, the Commerce Tigers (5-3, 3-1) limited Region 8-A defending champion Athens Academy, to only 89 yards of total offense in a 28-7 win over the Spartans.
The Commerce offense racked up 250 yards on the ground, while Tiger defense dominated the line of scrimmage, holding Athens Academy to only 55 rushing yards.
The most important stat line of last Friday’s game was arguably the Tigers’ plus-two turnover margin.
Frequent fumbles have afflicted the Commerce offense throughout the 2013 season, but head coach Michael Brown hopes the Tigers may be on their way to correcting some of those issues.
“(Jeff) Prickett told me on Sunday, that when we have less turnovers than our opponents, we win somewhere around 96 percent of our games,” Brown said. “So I would say that’s a big part of it. It’s something that has plagued us all year. We are making improvements in that area, but we have to keep working on it.”
This Friday, the Tigers will travel to Hebron Christian Academy to battle the 2-5 Lions at 7:30 p.m.
The Lions started out their season with two wins in a row over Lakeview Academy and Cross Keys, but since have failed to hold opponents to under 35 points in five straight losses.
While Commerce has enjoyed recent success in the region, Brown is making sure not to look past an opponent that he calls “a very dangerous team.”
“I think they are probably the best two-win team that you’re going to find,” Brown said. “They are extremely well coached on both sides of the ball and their kids play as hard as they can play. Watching film on them, I’ve been really impressed. They’ve given everybody they’ve played trouble.”
Commerce defeated Hebron Christian 42-11 in their inaugural matchup in 2012. If the Tigers can pull off the road win, they will head into a bye week with a 4-1 region record and firmly in the top 16 of the Class A (public) power rankings.
Athens Academy recap
On homecoming night, the Commerce High School football team rushed for 250 yards in a 28-7 win over Athens Academy.
The Spartans struck first in the opening quarter after breaking a 21-yard rushing touchdown. The Spartans would only cross midfield one other time the whole night after their opening possession score.
The Tigers quickly answered on the ensuing possession on a clock-chewing 17-play, 79-yard drive capped by a one-yard rushing score by Chance McClure.
The Tigers’ next score came after the Athens Academy punt return man fumbled inside his own 11-yard line. Commerce took advantage of the good field position and Jamir Walton darted into the end zone from six yards out to give the Tigers a seven-point lead.
After forcing an Athens Academy three-and-out, the Tigers strung together a 46-yard scoring drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by Grant Mayberry.
At the half, the Tigers led 21-7.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, as Commerce posted two three-and-outs, while Spartan drives ended with multiple punts and one interception.
The Tigers picked off two more passes in the fourth quarter, one of which set up Commerce’s final scoring drive of the night, as Walton ran in for his second score of the night, sealing a 28-7 Tiger victory.
The Commerce defense was stingy all night, giving up only 89 total yards of offense and McClure led the defense with nine tackles. J’Varius Wood snagged two interceptions, while K.J. Jones had one pick.
Walton rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts. McClure had 17 carries for 66 yards and a score. Mayberry added 59 yards on 11 carries and a score.