COMMERCE — Texas A&M University-Commerce tuned up for its upcoming Southland Conference football opener with a 63-3 non-conference victory over North American on Saturday at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium.
A&M Commerce trailed briefly at 3-0 after a fourth-down gamble didn’t pay off from its 34 on the Lions’ first possession. Luke Creber then booted a 49-yard field goal for the Stallions who are from Stafford, Texas.
Led by quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann, running back JT Smith and wide receiver Andrew Armstrong, the Lions then reeled off 63 unanswered points to square their season record at 2-2.
Dinklemann, in his second start at quarterback after switching over from tight end, went 20-of-25 passing for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Dinklemann, a 6-3, 243-pound junior from Somerset, Texas, ran for a 1-yard touchdown.
“Even though I’ve just moved to quarterback from tight end my job is still pretty easy,” said Dinklemann. “We have great playmakers on the outside of you. You just get the ball to them and they do the rest. And offensive line’s been amazing as well.
Dinklemann’s touchdown throws went for 49, 42 and 5 yards to Armstrong, who finished with 119 yards receiving on just four catches. The 6-6 Armstrong is averaging 22.6 yards per catch for the season with 20 catches for 452 yards and seven TDs.
“He’s a big-time football player,” said Lions coach David Bailiff.
Smith, who won the NCAA Division II national title in the 100-meter dash this past spring, showed his outstanding speed on touchdown runs of 48 and 55 yards. Smith rushed for 106 yards on just three carries.
“It was unbelievable,” Bailiff said of watching Smith with the football. “You saw the seam and you saw that 10.2 (seconds in the 100) or whatever he is take off, you knew nobody’s going to touch him though they had the angles on him.”
Jaden Proctor also caught four passes for 41 yards.
The Lions rushed for 242 yards as Reggie Branch picked up 36 yards on just two carries, including a 22-yard TD run.
BJ Phillips Jr ran for another 34 yards on nine carries, scoring on a 2-yard burst.
Tyson Oliver, the redshirt freshman from Royse City, played several series at quarterback for the Lions and ran 5 yards for their final touchdown with 5:52 remaining.
Emmanuel Adagbon was 9-of-9 on conversion kicks.
The final two quarters were shortened by five minutes each after the Lions jumped out to the 42-3 halftime lead.
North American, now 0-5 for the season, finished with only 18 total yards. Quarterback Joseph Hess was 6-of-19 passing for only 5 yards and was sacked six times for losses.
“I thought we started a little slow but we picked it up,” said Bailiff. “I was pleased with the effort.”
The Lions will be off this week with a bye before they open Southland Conference for the first time on Oct. 8 at Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond.
“I love the way our schedule falls out where we’re open this week,” said Bailiff. “We’ll give them a little time off and then we’ll go to work on Southeastern Louisiana. We’re 2-2, we’ve had an opportunity in every game. We need to keep learning from our mistakes and keep getting better and better.”
Bailiff called the Lions a “resilient bunch.”
“You see them keep working harder,” he said. “You see them eliminating these mistakes as they go. We’re gaining experience. We played a lot of young guys. Football’s like anything else, it’s about gaining experience. If you are determined by attitude to get better each week throughout the season that’s exactly what you do.”