COMMERCE, Texas – It wasn’t the three combined points of the least two weeks, but the Southeastern defense once again found an answer and preserved a 28-24 win for the Savage Storm over Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday afternoon in Commerce, Texas.
The win moves SE to 5-5 overall on the year and 3-1 in Lone Star Conference North Division play with just one game to play, that coming Nov. 8 when the Storm host arch-rival East Central at 2 p.m. at Paul Laird Field.
Brandon McCain managed the game solidly, completing 18-of-33 passes for 263 yards and all four touchdowns.
McCain’s favorite receiver on the day was his former backup Bo White. White tallied seven catches for 87 yards and was one of 10 receivers to catch a pass on the afternoon.
None of White’s catches went for scores, however, Daniel Nichols, Michael Goodlow, Baylen Laury and Jay Rose each cashed in with TD grabs.
The SE ground game found its legs again, with Laury reeling off 138 yards on just 10 carries, averaging 10.6 ypc. He reeled off a long of 67 on the day and had a pair of carries for 30 yards or more.
In all, the Storm finished with 410 yards of total offense, combining 147 yards on the ground with 263 through the skies.
Defensively, Craig Andrus again made his presence felt after moving to the strong safety position, tallying 10 tackles, including 1.0 for a loss.
Alex Moore and Brad Chasshir each chipped in eight stops, while Moore posted a game-high 3.0 TFL.
Patrick Kay and De’Arteuey Jones each forced a fumble, and Jones was able to recover his own. Johnny Seals also got into the turnover game, picking off a Mayo pass in the fourth quarter and returning it 16 yards.
Southeastern kept the action tense right to the end, as Storm fans celebrated what looked to be a possible game sealing interception by Seals.
However, three plays later a bad handoff attempt would fall to the turf and be recovered by Texas A&M-Commerce at Southeastern’s 35 yard line.
Passes of 12 and 15 yards helped the Lions move to a 1st-and-goal opportunity at the two yard line.
The Storm defense set the goal line tone on the first play, with Moore and Kay stopping El-Amin for a five yard loss.
SE would stop passing tries on second and third down before Lionel Gillespie would make the biggest tackle of the night, stopping Lion quarterback Mayo at the five yard line and ensuring the Southeastern victory.
The Lions took a 3-0 lead with 1:25 to play in the opening quarter, needing a fourth-down conversion at the SE 28 yard line to keep the drive alive.
SE responded four plays later when McCain connected with Rose on an 11 yard pass for a TD to take a 7-3 lead. The play was set up by Laury tearing off a 67 yard sprint on first down at SE’s own 20 yard line with the play ending at TAMUC’s 13.
TAMUC regained the lead when AJ Johnson returned a fumble 55 yards with 8:33 to play in the half, taking a 10-7 lead.
McCain again answered on the ensuing drive, just over two minutes later, connecting with Goodlow on a 34 yard TD strike to give the Storm a 14-10 lead which they would take to the locker room at halftime.
The Lions got on the board first in the second half when Terry Mayo scrambled for 15 yards and gave TAMUC a 17-14 lead. The drive followed a blocked Will White punt that gave the Lions the ball at SE’s 15 yard line.
SE again answered when McCain found Nichols on a 55 yard bomb to regain the lead at 21-17. The drive nearly stalled at the TAMUC 34 yard line, but Marcus High took the snap in the up back position on the punt team and fought for the yard needed to keep the drive alive.
The Lions’ Nabil El-Amin hauled in a seven yard pass from Mayo to once again steal away the lead at 24-21.
Then, with 5:30 to play, Laury reeled in another McCain pass and found his way 17 yards into the endzone to put the Storm back on top 28-24. A pass interference call and a Ty Hull grab for 23 yards helped the Storm move the ball from their own 45 yard line to the Lion 17 in just two plays.