The Commerce Tigers' offense is showing that it's a well-oiled machine through nine games of the 2019 season, and game No. 9 Friday night (Nov. 1) at Riverside Military Academy may have been the best production yet.
The Tigers (7-2, 4-1 Region 8-A North) scored on all eight possessions (seven touchdowns, one field goal) en route to a 52-21 win in Gainesville. The Tigers' largest lead was 38 points at two different times: 45-7 and 52-14.
Riverside opened the game with an 80-yard touchdown drive. After that, the Tigers' defense forced three turnovers on downs, one fumble – recovered by Tyleon Brock – and the rest were punts.
Head coach Michael Brown thought the team played a good first half, and the defense overcame a few "busts" in Riverside's opening series.
"But after that, (we) settled down, played very well," Brown said. "Had a goal-line stand or two that was big. You're facing a very talented football team. They've got athletes all over the place. They've got an offensive scheme that puts you in a bind. So, I thought our kids played hard."
Brown said assignment football on defense was very important to the success.
"If you're out of position, or you miss a tackle, what should be a 5-yard gain turns into a 15- or 20-yard gain. So, we didn't have a ton of those, but we did have a few. I thought at times we played extremely well, on both sides of the ball. We'll take a win tonight, though."
The Tigers' ground game overwhelmed Riverside's defense. Commerce rushed for 481 yards and seven touchdowns.
Brock carried the ball four times for 123 yards. Sam Roach carried the ball 11 times for 113 yards.
Josh Frates found the end zone three times for Commerce. He also rushed for 48 yards. Nate Ray added two touchdowns and 66 yards. Daniel Wilson also had a touchdown and 68 yards.
Wilson's 49-yard touchdown was a run down the right sideline, where it looked like he was going to be tackled and forced out of bounds. Wilson, though, had other plans, kept moving forward and broke away from several defenders and made it to the end zone.
"You want to see that kind of stuff at the end of the season," Brown said. "You want your kids to be peaking and having fun, and coming out here and playing their best. That's the challenge for our guys for the remainder of our journey this year.
"I thought we had a really good week of practice last week. Very, very focused. Very attentive. I think we got better at some things tonight, and we'll come back and go back to work on Monday."
After Riverside scored in under three minutes on the game's opening possession, Commerce had great field position to start its offensive attack thanks to TJ Trudnak's return to the Riverside 45-yard line. Six plays later, Frates pounded his way into the end zone on a 4-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
On the next possession, Brock had a 34-yard touchdown taken away due to a penalty. Two plays later, though, Ray was in the end zone for the go-ahead score, and the Tigers led 14-7 with 2:00 left in the opening frame.
The Tigers' defense was alert on the next possession, stopping Riverside's fake-punt-pass attempt just shy of the first-down marker. After a holding call and a Ray run, Frates had his second score of the game, but this time it was a 20-yard sprint to the end zone. The Tigers led 21-7.
The next possession for the Tigers started at their own 33, but the offense found lightning on the third play and Wilson's dazzling run down the right sideline to extend the lead to 28-7 with 8:04 left in the second quarter.
Elijah Burns led the Tigers' defense on the next possession, stuffing Riverside's Cam'ron Dabney for a tackle for loss and a turnover on downs at the Tigers' 4-yard line.
Commerce needed only six plays to go 96 yards for a touchdown. Ray capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run with 52 seconds left in the first half. The Tigers led 35-7.
Then, Brock's fumble recovery on Riverside's next possession gave Commerce a chance at points at the halftime buzzer. Eryck Diaz missed a 30-yard field goal, but a personal-foul penalty on Riverside gave the Tigers an untimed down, and Diaz took advantage of it, connecting for a 23-yard field goal to give Commerce a 38-7 lead at intermission.
On Commerce's first possession of the second half, the offense, again, had to go 96 yards to find the end zone. This time, though, the drive was ended by Frates' third touchdown of the game. Commerce's lead was 45-7.
The Tigers' final touchdown came with 11:28 left in the game. Michael Sherman scored on an 8-yard run.
Riverside's second-half touchdown drives came on drives of 15 and 14 plays, respectively.