Statement made: Lions go on road and dominate No. 7 Colorado School of Mines

Courtesy of Texas A&M-Commerce Athletics

Texas A&M-Commerce has won two consecutive road games and are playing outstanding defense in the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Sound familiar?

In a run that is eerily similar to their national title run in 2017, the No. 21 Lions went on the road in frigid Golden, Colo. and defeated No. 7 Colorado School of Mines, 23-3, on Saturday afternoon.

This is the Lions second trip to the regional finals in three years and the second straight week that TAMUC has knocked off a top 10 team who was previously undefeated.

TAMUC will need to defeat its third straight top 10 and undefeated opponent next Saturday in the regional finals round where they will play No. 4 and top-seeded Minnesota State-Mankato at noon at Blakeslee Stadium in Mankato, Minn.

The Lions defense was remarkable against the Orediggers as they tied an NCAA DII playoff record with 10 sacks from seven different players led by defensive lineman Elijah Earls who had 3.5 sacks on the day.

The TAMUC defense also forced five fumbles on the afternoon and recovered four of the fumbles while also forcing the Orediggers to turn the ball over on downs on two other occasions.

Lions quarterback Miklo Smalls once again led the offense as he completed 17-of-33 passes for 201 yards with an interception while adding 112 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries.

After falling behind 3-0 early in the game, Smalls put the Lions ahead for good with a 64-yard touchdown run.

The Lions offense struggled at times on the afternoon converting only 4-of-14 third-down attempts but was able to execute at critical times by converting both fourth-down attempts in the game.

TAMUC is beginning to resemble its 2017 team that finished with a national title. That Lions team entered as the No. 5 seed and won three road games before hosting the national semifinal.

The Lions have been a rarity among Lone Star Conference teams as they have won road games in Minnesota over their last two playoff runs. Add in this win in frigid and snowy Golden, Colo. and the Lions seem well suited to give the Mavericks a game next week.

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