WACO – Following the program's first-ever NCAA Division II National Championship, the Texas A&M University-Commerce football team is unanimously ranked No. 1 in the final American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches' Poll, as released Monday.
Led by 2017 Harlon Hill Award winner Luis Perez' 323 yards passing and two touchdowns, the National Champion Lions beat West Florida, 37-27, in Kansas City, Kan. The Lions outgained UWF by 201 yards in the game and had a 100-yard rusher (E.J. Thompson, 110 yards) and a 100-yard receiver (Shawn Hooks, 104 yards) each set career highs in the contest.
The Lions, who finish No. 1 in the AFCA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll for the first time in school history, won their second-ever national championship and first NCAA title. West Florida finishes the season at No. 2, their first-ever AFCA Top 25 ranking. The Argonauts only received votes two times during the regular season and finish the season with an 11-4 record. Indiana (Pa.), Minnesota State and Ferris State (Mich.) round out the Top 5.
In their record-breaking five playoff wins, the Lions defeated No. 15 Winona State, No. 7 Central Washington, No. 4 Minnesota State, No. 6 Harding, and No. 2 West Florida on the way to the National Championship.
A&M-Commerce has been ranked in 39 consecutive AFCA polls, dating back to the 2015 preseason poll. This is A&M-Commerce's 45th all-time appearance in the AFCA poll since its inception in 2000.
In the polls recognized by Division II as the top rating system, the Lions have been recognized as a nationally ranked team 94 times since joining Division II in 1981. The Lions had previously reached No. 2 in the polls four times, and achieve the nation's top ranking for the first time.