Lions hustle Hounds in LSC crossover

Freedom New Mexico

COMMERCE, Texas — Junior wide receiver Willie Thornton caught four touchdown passes, including a 98-yarder on the first play after an Eastern New Mexico University punt was downed at the 2, and Texas A&M-Commerce rolled to a 38-14 Lone Star Conference crossover win over the Greyhounds Saturday night.

Thornton finished with seven catches for 266 yards — a 38-yard average — as the Lions (2-2) got back to the .500 mark for the season. Senior quarterback Terry Mayo went 16-for-21 for 360 yards, throwing a fifth TD pass to Ernest Quander, and added 57 yards rushing.

The Lions built a 29-0 halftime lead and kept the Greyhounds (1-3) off the board until the final 11 minutes. Freshman J.J. Harp, who replaced starter Cory Baker at quarterback at the beginning of the second half, threw fourth-quarter TD passes of 20 and 36 yards to freshman Darian Dale.

Commerce, which led 36-0 before ENMU broke through, had a pair of safeties in the game — one when ENMU punter Tim Hall had his kick blocked and fell on it in the end zone, and the other when Harp was sacked in the end zone with eight minutes left.

Harp had a rough second half, getting sacked six times by the Lions. He finished the game 10-of-25 for 168 yards after Baker was able to generate just 36 yards through the air in the first half.

Dale finished the night with seven catches for 92 yards.

ENMU forced a punt following the opening kickoff, but Juan Velasco’s 39-yard boot was downed at the eight. On the second play, Baker’s pass was interception by Commerce’s Cory Whitfield at the 20, and Mayo hit Thornton for a 15-yard score two plays later.

After an exchange of punts, Baker led the Hounds on a short drive, but Adam Richards’ 45-yard field goal was wide right. Commerce then mounted a 72-yard drive in four plays, capped by a 47-yard pass from Mayo to Thornton for a 13-0 lead.

The first safety came late in the first quarter, followed by the 98-yard pass play to Thornton with 8:58 left in the half. Mayo’s 18-yard scoring pass to Quander ended an eight-play, 78 yards march with just over four minutes left in the half and made it 29-0 at the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, ENMU moved from its own 29 to the Commerce 19 before Whitfield and A.J. Johnson combined to sack Harp for a 6-yard loss on fourth down. On the next play, Mayo and Thornton hooked up for their fourth score and a 36-0 lead with 12:46 left.