GOLDEN, Colo. — The No. 21 Texas A&M University-Commerce Lions used stifling defense and capitalized on six turnovers in its 23-3 win over Colorado School of Mines on Saturday in the Super Region Four Semifinal at Marv Kay Stadium.
The Lion defense had 10 sacks and forced six turnovers, while the Lion offense gained 425 yards of offense.
Former John Tyler Lion Pierre Leonard had one of the sacks for the Lions. The 10 sacks tied an NCAA Division II playoff record. Elijah Earls (San Antonio Stevens) had 3.5 sacks, just a half sack shy of tying the DII playoff record. Joining Leonard with sacks were Chris Williams (Atlanta, Georgia), Jaylon Hodge (Fort Bend Travis), Devin Beamon (North Forney), Mark Brown (Fort Worth Arlington Heights) and Terrell Collins (St. Louis).
Leonard also forced a fumble.
The win brings the Lions to 11-2 on the season, and they advance to the regional final for the second time in three seasons. Mines suffers its first loss of the year, falling to 12-1 on the year.
The Lions will next travel to Mankato, Minnesota, to face top seed Minnesota State in a rematch of the 2017 regional final. The game will be played at noon Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium.
Also, the Lions forced five fumbles, recovering four, and also stopped two fourth-down attempts, posting six turnovers forced in the game. L.A. Dawson (Austin LBJ), Jalon Edwards-Cooper (Spring Dekaney), Peyton Searcy (Killeen), Hodge and Leonard all forced fumbles.
Miklo Smalls (Plano East) had 112 yards rushing and the game’s first touchdown, while also throwing for 201 yards. Jemal Williams (Inglewood, California) also had a rushing touchdown.
Preston Wheeler (Austin Bowie) completed both of his passes, including a 34-yard touchdown. His touchdown went to Tyler Guice (Atlanta).
The Lions held Mines 40.5 points under it season scoring average, which ranked seventh in the nation entering the game. The three points scored by the Orediggers marks their lowest point total since the opening week of the 2008 season.