COMMERCE — The Commerce Tigers got a defensive touchdown in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in a 20-14 victory against the Howe Bulldogs 20-14 in a key District 5-3A (I) contest held in rainy and slick conditions that also saw a delay due to lighting issues at Memorial Stadium.
Commerce (3-5, 2-2) earned the tie-breaker against Howe (3-6, 2-3) should the two end up even in the standings. The Bulldogs have one game remaining, hosting rival Van Alstyne on Friday, before finishing with the district bye. A loss will eliminate Howe but the Bulldogs would need help even if they come away with the win.
The Howe defense was the first to put up points in this ballgame with an 80-yard interception return by Layton Elvington — his sixth interception of the year. It turned out to be the only touchdown of the first half as both offenses struggled to put anything together.
After the first snap in the third quarter by Commerce sailed over J’den Wilson’s head, it seemed the Tigers were in store for another disastrous turnover. Instead, the speedy quarterback scooped up the ball, ran it up the gut, eluding Howe defenders and won the 70-yard footrace to the end zone but the conversion failed and the Bulldogs remained in front.
Howe managed to put up seven points in the third quarter off of a 10-yard run by Jalen Thornton for a 14-6 advantage. The Bulldogs finished the game with 208 yards with Thornton contributing a little more than half of that with 91 yards on 22 carries and three catches for 21 yards.
Austin Haley completed 9-of-15 passes for 110 yards and an interception while Caiden Harmon finished with five receptions for 46 yards and Kolby Windon caught a pass for 43 yards.
The Tigers struck again on the first play of the fourth quarter with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from Kendrick Greer. The two-point conversion run by Brad Caldwell tied the game at 14.
After a strong punt put the Bulldogs on their own five-yard line, a fumble in the end zone was recovered by Greer to give the Tigers what turned out to be the eventual winning points.