COMMERCE, OK —
Both starting senior quarterbacks were knocked out of Friday's game at Tiger Field, casting a long shadow on No. 5 Commerce's 30-15 win over No. 11 Salina in a crucial District 2A-8 contest.
Salina captain Cale Backward was injured early in the third quarter scrambling away from pressure on a third-and-8. Backward was on the ground for several minutes and seemed dazed, but later got to his feet and left the field with his father by his side.
Commerce quarterback and defensive back Jameson Blake left the game in an ambulance with 7:38 left to play after a powerful block by Salina's Bret Fite. Blake suffered a severe compound fracture in his leg.
Fite's block sprung Kyle Johnson on an 80-yard punt return to trim the Wildcat deficit to 23-15, but Jon Parsons was stuffed on the two-point run to keep Commerce up eight.
With both quarterbacks out of the game, Commerce running back DC Chance took over, taking Commerce's first offensive play after Blake's injury 72 yards for a deflating touchdown. Salina freshman backup quarterback Bret Lococo's fourth-and-27 pass fell incomplete on the ensuing possession to put the final nail in the Wildcat coffin.
The 'Cats (6-2, 4-1 District 2A-8) centered their preparations this week on containing the elusive Chance, and for the most part Salina kept the senior at bay until the fourth quarter. Though he finished with 169 yards on 14 carries, Chance's first 12 carries netted just 60 yards and only one of his carries in the first three quarters went for more than seven yards.
The Tigers' only touchdown in the first two quarters came by way of a Blake 7-yard keeper on Commerce's first drive of the game. The Tigers racked up 88 yards in 11 plays on the drive but Salina held the hosts to -9 total yards for the remainder of the half.
The Wildcats struck back with a 14-play, 80-yard drive, as Parsons plunged in from three yards out for a touchdown. Kyle Johnson converted a third-and-14 on a shovel pass from Cale Backward to keep the drive alive but missed the ensuing PAT attempt.
Late in the second quarter, a late hit personal foul on Commerce and a Backward sneak on a fourth-and-1 gave Johnson a chance to redeem himself for the missed kick. The junior nailed a 28-yard field goal as the first-half clock expired to give the Wildcats a 9-7 lead — and Commerce's first deficit of the season.
Salina killed Commerce's last drive of the first half with a pair of monster sacks from Jared Mellowbug and Parsons to force a momentum shift heading into the locker room.
Backward was 4-of-8 passing for 52 yards before he left the game. Lococo was 2-for-5 for 30 yards.
Cullen Patterson caught a pair of passes for 30 yards to lead the Wildcats, while Colton Burgess, Trent Ballou and Johnson each caught a ball for at least 14 yards. Salina netted 202 yards on offense and got 55 yards from Parsons and 45 yards from Fite on the ground.
Trenton Barr had a pair of third-quarter touchdown runs for Commerce, which remains unbeaten at 8-0 and 5-0 in district and has the inside track to a district title. Salina is still in the running for a second-place finish and a home playoff game, with games remaining at home against Quapaw Nov. 1 and at Kansas Nov. 8.
Quapaw and Salina will kick off at 7 p.m.