Apalachee’s defense turned in a solid performance in the Wildcats’ home preseason scrimmage Friday, Aug. 6, but a few untimely offensive sputters kept the Wildcats from pulling out the victory as the teams finished in a 14-14 tie at R. Harold Harrison Stadium.

Commerce and Apalachee were knotted at 14 during the junior-varsity fourth quarter when the Tigers recovered a fumble at their own 33-yard line with 1:27 left in the scrimmage. A few big runs, including a long rumble up the middle by Tysean Wiggins, put the Tigers just outside of field goal range with just under a minute left. However, a block in the back penalty on the next play pushed Commerce back to midfield.

Without any timeouts, Commerce was unable to mount a final offensive and the game ended with a tie.

Both teams started off slowly and sloppily on offense. After Commerce punted the ball away on the opening possession, the Wildcats ripped off a pair of 14-yard runs before bailing the Tigers out with a pair of fumbles in the next three snaps.

After another Commerce three-and-out, Apalachee went back on the attack, driving all the way to the Tigers’ 21-yard-line before a false-start penalty and a third fumble. The Wildcats recovered the ball but lost 13 yards right before the end of the first quarter.

Things went from good to great for Commerce when Jabari Little intercepted a rainbow pass from Apalachee quarterback Howard Holloway. Little returned the ball to the Tigers’ 28-yard line and Commerce needed just three plays to reach Apalachee territory.

Martin opened the drive with runs of 10 and 15 yards. Kemanni Horne followed with a physical 18-yard run up the middle of the field. Martin reached the end zone three plays later on a 19-yard pass from Landon Bunn across the middle, giving Commerce a 7-0 lead with 8:21 left in the second quarter.

Apalachee went back to work on its next drive, picking up 54 yards in its first two plays. The Wildcats kept from making the mistakes that killed their first two possessions and Holloway ended the drive with a touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 5:18 left in the half.

The Wildcats had a chance to take the lead going into the locker rooms after another Commerce punt, but they missed a 42-yard field goal wide right with less than a minute on the clock. They made up for that blunder with a long touchdown run by Colby Sikes early in the third quarter to take a 14-7 lead.

The Tigers’ next possession was classic Commerce football, covering 75 yards in eight minutes. Martin ended the drive with a 14-yard run up the gut to tie the game 14-14 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.

The JV squads took over in the fourth quarter, but neither could do much on offense. Commerce gave the ball away on a fumble on its first possession of the quarter, but Apalachee answered with a failed fourth-down conversion. The roles reversed on each team’s next possession.

Apalachee is off this week as it prepares for its regular-season opener Aug. 20 at Winder-Barrow.

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