Mike Stearns

Special to the Grove Sun

Mike Stearns

Special to the Grove Sun

COMMERCE — It was about as good a Friday night as Commerce could have hoped for.

While Commerce was pounding Kansas on their home turf ,50-20, Salina beat Adair, 29-28, to give the Tigers a boost in the District 2A-8 standings heading into the final week of the regular season.

With Colcord beating Wyandotte, 55-15, that leaves Colcord and Commerce atop the district with 5-1 records. Adair  fell to fourth in the district with a 4-2 record. Salina also sports a 4-2 district record, moving in to third thanks to owning a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Warriors.

Kansas fell to 3-3 in district play, and will need a win over Adair on Friday to make the playoffs.

Other games in the district in the final week include Wyandotte at Salina while Colcord will host Ketchum.

Commerce owns the tiebreaker over Colcord by virtue of beating the Hornets in Week 5, 35-14.

Should the Tigers (8-1) defeat Quapaw next Thursday night, then Commerce would be the top seed for 2A-8 in the opening round of the state playoffs.

They would be guaranteed two home games, should they win over the number four team from District 2A-7.

But for the senior backfield tandem of Brycen Sullivan and Austin McMain, it could not have been a better sendoff on Senior Night.

Sullivan had 387 yards on 23 carries and scored five times.

But it was McMain that got the Tigers started, hitting the line and then veering to the right sideline for a 27-yard touchdown just 1:24 into the contest. Tyler Maxwell hit the extra point to put Commerce up 7-0.

The next series belonged to McMain again as the senior fullback broke loose at the Tiger 32 and scored 68 yards later. Maxwell added the kick to make it 14-0.

“Austin (McMain) is a stout back with a low center-of-gravity,” said Tiger head coach Willie Ng. “He can run and he can run you over.”

Knowing that they could not key on just Sullivan as they did in the first two series, Kansas loosened up on the Tigers’ leading rusher. It proved to be a telling decision.

Sullivan hit the line on the first play of the next drive and blasted into the secondary. He was brought down along the left sideline after outracing the Comet secondary to the Kansas one-yard line.

On the next play, Sullivan vaulted over both lines, leaping head first to paydirt. The extra point kick sailed wide and Commerce led 20-0.

In letting Sullivan finish off the drive after his dazzling 70-yard jaunt, Ng said, “Of course, Sullivan stands out. The offense really stole the show tonight. We had 643 yards on the ground and our offensive line play was outstanding.”

Kansas answered on their next drive, breaking off a long run of their own to set up Dakota Bright’s 12-yard touchdown burst.

But Sullivan and the Tigers had an immediate answer. The big senior broke right up the middle and was into the Comet secondary before the Kansas players could react. 40 yards later, Sullivan stood in the end zone and Commerce led 26-7.

Sullivan added touchdown runs of five yards and a single yard to counter Kansas’ 65-yard Wade Lewis score. After the offensive flurry, Commerce led 41-14.

The Tigers capped off the first half scoring with a 30-yard field goal from Maxwell. The Tigers owned the game at the half, 44-14.

Each team added a score in the second half with Sullivan scoring from 17 yards out in the third quarter. Kansas added a touchdown on the final play of the game to make it 50-20.

McMain had 175 yards on 14 carries to add to Sullivan’s brilliant performance. Kasey Ng hit on 6 of 12 passes for 52 yards bringing the Tiger total to an impressive 695 yards offense on the night.

Commerce finishes the season with a visit to rival Quapaw on a rare Thursday night season-ending contest.

“The kids are very aware of the situation,” said Ng. “The motivation factor is not a problem. We have a great group of seniors on this team. They remember us being 10-0 and losing in the first round of the playoffs. We have to worry about Quapaw first and they always play us tough."