The Texas A&M University-Commerce football team is headed to California for the first time in the 2000s when it faces nationally ranked Sacramento State on Saturday night.
WHO: Sacramento State at A&M-Commerce
WHERE: Sacramento, Calif. | Hornet Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, September 9 | 9 p.m. PDT, 7 p.m. CDT
RECORDS: The Hornets are 1-0 on the season, the Lions are 0-1.
RANKINGS: Sac State is ranked No. 8 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and No. 9 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25. The Lions are unranked.
LIVE AUDIO: Lion Sports Network – KETR 88.9 FM, Commerce (http://www.ketr.org)
LIVE VIDEO: ESPN+ | https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/eventCalendarId/401540286
LIVE STATS: https://statb.us/v/tame/472711
GAME NOTES: TAMUC | SAC
A&M-COMMERCE ENTERS SECOND YEAR IN NCAA DIVISION I FCS
The Lions begin the second season in NCAA Division I FCS this week against UC Davis.
It is also the second season for the Lions in the Southland Conference and first under coach Clint Dolezel.
A&M-Commerce will be eligible for FCS Playoffs during the 2026 season.
SLC MEMBERS IN 2023-24
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
DOLEZEL TAKES THE REINS
Last week, coach Clint Dolezel made his debut as the Lions coach, returning to his alma mater.
A Lion Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Dolezel is considered one of the best arena football quarterbacks of all-time and coached multiple championship teams in arena football.
He brings along another Lion Athletics Hall of Famer, Bobby Bounds as the offensive coordinator and Dave Ewart as the offensive line coach.
Chase Paramore (Running Backs), Jarrett Boykin (Wide Receivers), and
Nathan Jester (Tight Ends) are new
additions on the offensive staff, while Jay Williams (Safeties) is the lone new coach defensively.
Both Jester and Williams spent last season on the coaching staff as graduate assistants.
SUCCESS IN SEASON OPENERS
A&M-Commerce fell to UC Davis last week in the season opener, ending a streak of nine straight wins in the first game of the season.
Prior to this season, the Lions last lost a season opener in 2012.
STREAK OF SEASON OPENING WINS
||W, 51-6, Sul Ross State
||W, 98-20, East Texas Baptist
||W, 48-17, Adams State
||W, 40-28, at Delta State
||W, 8-7, at North Alabama
||W, 37-36 (OT), Texas A&M-Kingsville
||W, 93-0, Seleccion Nuevo Leon
||W, 12-6, at Colorado State-Pueblo
||W, 52-7, vs. Lincoln (Calif.)
This weekend is A&M-Commerce’s first game in the state of California since playing UC Davis in 1999.
ALWAYS FARED WELL AGAINST RANKED TEAMS
The Lions are playing a ranked team for the second straight week.
Dating back to the 2015 season, A&M-Commerce has picked up at least one win over a ranked team each season.
Last season, the Lions beat No. 20/19 Southeastern on the road, for the first ranked win as a Division I FCS member.
The Lions still have two more teams on the schedule that are currently ranked.
SERIES HISTORY AGAINST THE HORNETS
The Lions and the Hornets meet for the first time on the gridiron on Saturday.
TAYLOR-MADE START TO THE SEASON
A cornerstone for the Lion defense,
Daryion Taylor recorded nine tackles last week against UC Davis, as well as picking up an interception.
The senior defensive back was picked as a preseason all-Southland Conference
EPPS STEPS UP IN OPENER
Max Epps caught an interception last week against UC Davis, which is the second straight season that he
collected an interception in a season opener.
Epps now has three interceptions in his career, including one returned for a touchdown, which came against Lincoln (Calif.) last season.
WINNING FEELING ON HOMECOMING
By downing HCU 31-3 on homecoming weekend last year, the Lions won their eighth straight homecoming game and are 60-35-1 all-time on homecoming weekend.
Since 2008, A&M-Commerce is 8-6 in homecoming games.
RARE FEAT FOR THE LIONS
Last season, the Lions started 3-0 in conference play with the win over HCU. The Lions became just the fourth program to start conference play 3-0 during its first season in NCAA Division I AA/FCS, joining UAlbany (DII), Dayton (DIII), and Gardner-Webb (DII).
RARELY MISSED HISTORY
The Lions went 5-6 in 2022, rarely missing a winning record, stopping a streak of having a winning season for every year since 2013.
LIONS EARN NATIONAL RECOGNITION IN 2022
After the win at Southeastern a year ago, quarterback Eric Rodriguez was among the honorable mention candidates for FCS National Offensive Player of the Week award.
As a team, the Lions were also named as a honorable mention National Team of the Week
On October 17, Kendall Paul was also named an honorable mention Defensive Player of the Week after earning the SLC Defensive Player of the Week.
WILLIAMS TAKES OVER AS DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR
Kyle Williams, who served the past two seasons as assistant defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach, took over the Lions’ defensive coordinator for the 2022 season.
The Lions had the top ranked defense in the Southland Conference in his first season as the defensive coordinator.
A 2006 graduate of Kansas State, Williams earned all-Big 12 honors as a player and his coaching stints prior to Commerce include University of Southern California and Kansas State.
Williams was the defensive coordinator at Sul Ross State (DIII) from 2014-17. He had nine defensive players earn All-America status during that stretch.
FINDING SECOND HOMES
As is the case around the country, the Lions welcome 24 transfers to the squad in 2023. The transfers have found their way to Commerce from all levels of college football.
|College Football Division
||Number of Transfers
|Division I FBS
|Division I FCS
|NAIA & Junior College
LIONS IN THE PROS
Four Lion alums are currently, or recently signed professional football contracts, highlighted Miami Dolphins starting cornerback Kader Kohou.
Luis Perez ended the most recent XFL season as a league champion with the Arlington Renegades, earning championship game MVP honors.
Recent graduate, Celestin Haba signed a contract with the Winnepeg Jets of the Canadian Football League and has become a mainstay on the defensive line.
Haba joins Jalen Edwards-Cooper in the CFL. Edwards-Cooper plays for the British Columbia Lions.
LION FOOTBALL RANKED NO. 4 IN “TOP 20 PROGRAMS THAT INSPIRE”
The Lion Football program was ranked No. 4 in College Athletic Advisor’s Top 20 Programs That Inspire in 2021.
The program rankings are open to all four-year, collegiate-level programs outside of NCAA Division I and are based on a subjective assessment of student experience in four areas:
-Holistic development of student-athletes in the institution;
-Academic achievement and support for the academic success of student-athletes;
-Overall college experience for participants within the program;
-Affordability/graduation rates/student satisfaction.
Although College Athletic Advisor’s list is subjective, the organization believes these rankings “present an informed starting point for a discussion about where student-athletes can excel as ‘triple-threat’ competitors (academics, athletics, and socially) in college and in their future lives.”