COMMERCE — Commerce made sure quickly it would not be anyone’s upset victim Friday night in the opening round of the Class A Public playoffs.
The Tigers leaned on their defense early to run out to a 24-0 halftime lead and then pulled away for a 52-20 victory over Manchester at Tiger Stadium.
The Blue Devils (4-7) came in with a telling stat. They were a perfect 4-0 when allowing 8 points or less and 0-6 when allowing more than 8 points in a game. The Tigers (10-1) made it 0-7 for the Blue Devils as six different players recorded touchdowns on the night.
Commerce quarterback Trey Huff capped the Tigers’ opening drive with a 2-yard TD run in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. They would put the game away scoring 17 points over the final 9 minutes of the first half.
Elijah Burns made it 14-0 with a 33-yard scoring and Michael Sherman capped their next drive with a 1-yard plunge for a 21-0 lead. Eryck Diaz finished the first half booting a 44-yard field goal just before the half. The kick was the second-longest field goal in Commerce history.
But as dominating as the first half was, the Tigers saw the Blue Devils post 20 points in just over 15 minutes against a defense that was allowing just 14 points a game.
“I thought we played outstanding in the first half but we got a little sloppy in the second half,” Commerce coach Michael Brown said. “Manchester never quit and you have to give them credit. But we have to do a better job of staying focused. But I’m very pleased with getting a win and moving on.”
Dreylan Martin scored twice and Huff connected with Shawn Cunningham on a 12-yard touchdown pass, their only completion of the game, eventually running out to a 45-20 lead.
The defense capped the win as Gray Holbrook recovered an errant Manchester snap in the end zone with just over two minutes left.
Sammy Brown led a 352-yard rushing effort with 133 yards for Commerce. Tyelon Brock had 70 yards for the Tigers.