As of the end of the 2017 season, Colby Carthel has won 48 total games, 3 Lone Star Conference Titles, 7 Postseason games, and a National Championship. So many of the wins under Carthel has a fair amount of importance, but the top 10 wins no doubt have molded the program to it’s current state. Voted on by fans and former players, here they are.
10. September 4, 2014, Memorial Stadium, Commerce, Texas-Texas A&M-Commerce-98, East Texas Baptist-20-After the Lions had completed Carthel’s first season at 7-5 and a bowl appearance, the Lions opened their season against a competent East Texas Baptist squad. The main attraction was the transfer of former Texas Longhorn running back Joe Bergeron, but in a very short amount of time, the Lions offense found that it almost lacked an off switch. Tyrik Rollison threw for 562 yards in just one half of work while the Lions set national records for offensive yards in a game (968) and points in a game (98). The huge win got the Lions a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter that night and the following day Colby Carthel was interviewed by Linda Cohn on ESPN. It was not just a big win, but a huge performance to show that there was something serious going on in that rural North Texas town of Commerce.
9. October 10, 2015, Memorial Stadium, Commerce, Texas-# 15 Texas A&M-Commerce 38, # 16 Angelo State-35-In front of a nationally televised audience via ESPN3, The Lions of TAMUC made big plays to take down the team that Lone Star conference coaches and writers had picked to win the LSC. Harrison Stewart completed 17 of 24 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown pass while Richard Cooper had a 100 yards on 23 carries. The win propelled the Lions into the national title conversation and put Commerce once again on the national spotlight.
8. November 19, 2016, Memorial Stadium, Commerce, Texas-# 8 Texas A&M-Commerce-34, # 24 Colorado-Mesa Mustangs-24, NCAA Division II Playoffs First Round.-It had been 25 years since Commerce, Texas had hosted an NCAA Playoff Football game. After a 10-1 regular season record, the Lions did not disappoint their hometown fans by jumping out to a big lead and never letting it go. It gave the Lions their most wins in a season since 1952 (11) and brought NCAA playoff football back to Commerce. The win also was the first home playoff win since the 1991 Lions defeated Grand Valley State in Commerce.
7. October 26, 2013, Tarleton Memorial Stadium, Stephenville, Texas-Texas A&M-Commerce-22, # 23 Tarleton State Texans-20-It had been 7 years since the Lions had defeated arch rival Tarleton State and had not won in Stephenville since 1996. The Lions were riding high and off to a 5-2 start heading into the annual President’s Cup Game. Harrison Stewart threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns while Deric Davis hit Vernon Johnson for 27 yards. With just over 3 minutes to go, Harrison Stewart hit Hayden Marsh for a 25 yard touchdown on 4th and 13 to tie the game. On the ensuing conversation attempt, Marcus Fore bobbled the deep snap and did not think twice before rushing to the left pylon and putting the Lions ahead for good. Tarleton drove the field but missed a long field goal attempt that would have been the game winner. It was one of the first big wins and put the Lions in the NCAA Regional Rankings for Playoff seeding for the first time since 1996.
6. December 6, 2014, BullDAWG Stadium, Copperas Cove, Texas, C.H.A.M.P.S Heart of Texas Bowl, Texas A&M-Commerce-72, East Central Oklahoma-21-In the Lions first postseason win since 1991, TAMUC jumped out to a 21-7 lead riding the arm of Tyrik Rollison and Deric Davis, blowing out former LSC North Division foe East Central Oklahoma 72-21. It was the climax on a masterful season on offense where the Lions led the nation in passing offense, total offense, yards per game, and points per game. Despite being left out of the NCAA playoffs due to a late season loss to Angelo State, the 9-3 season was a preview of things to come in the Carthel era.
5. September 13, 2013, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas-Texas A&M-Commerce-45, # 25 Delta State Statesmen-37-After starting off the season by routing Division III Sul Ross State in Commerce, the Lions faced a very tough task. Delta State had made a run in the 2012 Division II playoffs and had beaten a Division I-FCS school the week before. Nobody was picking the Lions to stand a chance in this one. It started off that way, but showtime came to Commerce in the form of Vernon Johnson who took two touchdowns to the house via passes from Tyrik Rollison. The Lions bold play gave them a 21-16 lead going into the half. After pushing their lead to 28-16 after a fumble return, Delta State came back to nab a 30-28 lead. Then, the offensive creativity of the Lions gave the Lions the lead for good when Deric Davis lined up in the slot, took a swing pass from Rollison and fired a perfect pass to Stacey Howard for a 45 yard touchdown. The Lions then pushed their lead back to double digits before Delta State tacked on a late score with a minute left. The Lions recovered an onside kick return, and the biggest win for the Lions in years saw a determined and gritty group that could win big games, and that night was special.
4. October 24, 2015, Memorial Stadium, Commerce, Texas-# 11 Texas A&M-Commerce-27, # 10 Midwestern State-14-At a 6-1 record, the Lions faced a top ten opponent in Midwestern State. The Lions had a simple task-beat the Mustangs for the first time since 2005 and win the Lone Star Conference title for the second year in a row, and be one of only 11 Lion teams that have won the LSC with perfect conference records. On a cold and rainy day in Commerce, Harrison Stewart and Richard Cooper both had career days as they put up 370 yards of total offense en route to defeating the Mustangs 27-13. That win launched the Lions back into the top ten for the first time since the 1990’s and for the first time since the late fifties, got the Lions back to back LSC titles.
3. December 9, 2017, Ernest Hawkins Field At Memorial Stadium, Commerce, Texas-# 2 Texas A&M-Commerce 31, # 3 Harding Bison-17-NCAA Division II National Semifinals-In front of an overflow crowd of 13,000, the largest in school history 45 years from the day the Lions lifted the NAIA trophy in Commerce, The Lions punched their ticket to their first NCAA Division National title appearance by defeating a very good Harding team. It was an incredible win for many reasons. It was the largest crowd in Memorial Stadium history (don’t believe the official boxscore). Harding struck first with their powerful triple option attack, but the Lions took a 17-7 lead after a Gabe Rodriguez 2 yard TD run and a Luis Perez to Vincent Hobbs touchdown pass. The Lions defense simply suffocated the Buffalo offense to keep them at only being able to run, and the students rushed the field to celebrate one of the biggest home wins in school history.
2. November 25, 2017, Tomlinson Stadium, Ellensburg, Washington-NCAA Division II National Playoffs Second Round-# 8 Texas A&M-Commerce-34, # 7 Central Washington Wildcats (2 Overtimes)-After defeating Winona State in first round of the national playoffs, the Lions headed to the Pacific Northwest to take on the top ranked team in Super Region 4, Led by a former Division I quarterback, the Central Washington Wildcats were every bit as good as advertised. It was a bleak and cold day in Washington, and those words also described the Lions play in the first half. Going into the locker room at a 28-7 deficit, the Lions came out on fire. Capping a 5 play 58 yard drive, Carandal Hale took a handoff for 26 yards to cut the deficit 28-14. Vincent Hobbs nabbed a 9 yard pass from Luis Perez with 12 minutes left to go in the game. With one final drive to go, The Lions took the ball 64 yards on 14 plays in 2 minutes. On fourth and goal, Luis Perez fired a slant to a diving Buck Wilson for the touchdown, silencing the Tomlinson Stadium crowd, and Kristov Martinez knocked through the extra point to tie the game, sending it into overtime. The Lions got the ball first and put through a 38 yard field goal by Martinez. CWU got the ball back and almost scored a touchdown, but were pushed back by negative plays and penalties and had to settle for a 22 yard field goal. CWU got the ball back and went for a touchdown on fourth down, but were almost picked off and turned the ball over on downs. 3 straight running calls set up Kristov Martinez for another 38 yard attempt. Martinez put through the 38 yarder and a game that was looking to send the Lions back home in the second round for the second straight year turned into a euphoric and perhaps season defining win.
1. December 16, 2017-Children’s Mercy Hospital Park, Kansas City, Kansas-2017 NCAA Division II National Championship Game-#2 Texas A&M-Commerce-37, # 4 West Florida Argonauts-27-No doubt about this one. After Luis Perez was awarded the Harlon Hill Award, he led the Lions to their first National Title in 45 years. For Coach Colby Carthel, it was a sweet and vindicating victory that he was the man to take the Lions back to the top. For the players, many of them who had come from other programs and small high school programs, it meant getting to a point they never thought they would get to, and for the fans it meant being King of the Jungle once again in the realm known as College Football. The Lions used big offensive plays, a kickoff return for a touchdown, and huge defensive plays to defeat a very athletic West Florida squad and take home the National Crown for the first time in 45 years.