COMMERCE — Quarterback Cody Streetman was an unlikely hero for Commerce as the Tigers stayed undefeated in Region 8-A with a 35-17 win over Athens Christian.
In a game that saw its share of big plays Streetman had the most, utilizing the option keeper to near-perfection, scoring four touchdowns and rushing for 140 yards on 13 carries, including the final score of the night for the Tigers (3-3, 2-0).
"I had never scored before tonight," said Streetman, who has passed for four touchdowns this season. "It was the option. I just made the right reads and trusted myself, it worked."
The game was much closer than the final score indicated. Athens Christian (4-3, 1-2) dominated much of the first half, but wore down as the game progressed.
The biggest play of the game came early in the third quarter. Leading 17-14 at the half, Athens Christian received the second-half kickoff. Starting at their own 7-yard line, the Eagles moved the ball to the 35-yard line before going for it a fourth-and-inches, but were stopped by the Tigers’ defense.
Streetman scored his third touchdown of the night five plays later from 25 yards out to give Commerce a 21-17 advantage. The Eagles could never recover. Streetman and Deon Brock added late touchdowns, but it was the failed fourth down that signaled the end for Athens Christian.
"Our game plan is always to run the ball right at the other team," Tigers’ coach Steve Savage said. "As the game went on, we made better plays and wore them down."
"The turning point was the failed fourth down early in the third quarter," Eagles’ coach Bill Forman said. "I think if we get that, we keep the momentum and things might be different."
Both teams enjoyed some offensive success in the first half. Commerce jumped out early with touchdown runs of 4 and 7 yards from Streetman to give the Tigers a 14-3 early in the second quarter.
Streetman’s touchdown runs were set up by Commerce’s punishing star running back Brock, who amassed 73 first-half yards on just nine carries and finished with 132 yards on 17 attempts.
"Cody doesn’t usually carry the ball that much for us," Savage said. "But he sure did have a good night."
The second quarter belonged to the Eagles. Athens Christian answered the Tigers’ 14-3 lead with a touchdown to cut the lead to 14-10 midway through the quarter when Neil Homer busted through a pack of tacklers on a third-and-5 for a 75-yard touchdown. Homer finished with 96 yards on 10 carries.
"We did not tackle well in the first half," Savage said. "They have some very good backs, and we did not do a good job containing them."
Brock had the apparent answer on the Tigers’ next possession, running around the right side for a 65-yard touchdown, but the run was called back for a holding penalty. Three plays later, Commerce faked a punt on fourth-and-3 but couldn’t come up with the first down. Streetman threw just over the reach of Casey Drinkard, but the Eagles’ offense took over at the Tigers’ 45-yard line.
Athens Christian drove down the field in nine plays, including a bold conversion on fourth-and-3, that was capped by Anthony Cosby’s 11-yard touchdown, putting the Eagles ahead by three at the half.
"We were right where we should have been at the half," Forman said. "They are the type of team we are trying to become and they just wore us down in the second half."