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Commerce jumps on Amherst, wins 34-20

  • Brandon Rivera, left, of Amherst, runs for a touchdown against Commerce Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Brandon Rivera, left, of Amherst, runs for a touchdown against Commerce Friday at Springfield Central High School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nikolai Wright, center, of Amherst, is tackled by two Commerce defenders after catching a pass Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Nikolai Wright, center, of Amherst, is tackled by two Commerce defenders after catching a pass Friday at Springfield Central High School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jonathan Faulstick, right, of Amherst, passes as a Commerce defender tries to block it Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jonathan Faulstick, right, of Amherst, passes as a Commerce defender tries to block it Friday at Springfield Central High School.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Brandon Rivera, left, of Amherst, runs for a touchdown against Commerce Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Nikolai Wright, center, of Amherst, is tackled by two Commerce defenders after catching a pass Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jonathan Faulstick, right, of Amherst, passes as a Commerce defender tries to block it Friday at Springfield Central High School.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

SPRINGFIELD — Three scoring plays in the second half on Friday evening showed the potential of the Amherst Regional football team.

But another slow start took the Hurricanes out of legitimate contention in a 34-20 loss to Commerce at Berte Field.

“Even if we’re down by 30, I believe we’re always still in the game,” junior quarterback Jack Faulstick said. “You have to keep your head up and keep fighting at all times. Of course we’re a little frustrated about not winning yet, but I feel like we’re still building our season. When we get healthy, I’m confident we’ll win some games.”

Brandon Rivera scored all three of Amherst’s touchdowns, including a pair on beautifully executed screen passes from Faulstick. The third came on a draw play from 38 yards out.

The Hurricanes (0-4, 0-1 Suburban), who were missing 12 players, had a tough time defensively, allowing 416 total yards.

“We played with a lot of young guys in this one,” coach David Thompson said. “They kept fighting and eventually made a game of it, so I’m proud of that. Without the mistakes and the blown coverages it’s a close game at the end. I expect younger, inexperienced guys to make some small mistakes, but they didn’t quit.”

Commerce running back D’Vonte Sewell accounted for 190 yards on 34 carries. However, the ’Canes were hurt mostly through the air, as quarterback Marque Gibson put up 226 passing yards and three touchdown passes.

“We had some blown coverages and fell behind by too many points, and Sewell ran hard for them,” Thompson said. “We need to wrap up better, but we played a lot better and need to build on that.”

Two key passing plays came at inopportune times. As time expired in the second quarter, Gibson connected with Nicolas Perry on a 41-yard score to make it 20-0 at halftime.

After Amherst cut the lead to 20-6, it had the Commerce offense in a third-and-6 situation early in the fourth. But Gibson found Marvin Lovett for 35 yards and a first down. Four plays later, Sewell went in from 3 yards to put it out of reach with 7:31 left.

The Amherst defense started well in the third quarter, turning the Red Raiders over on downs on their first possession and forcing a 3-and-out on the second. Starting at the Commerce 42, the offense got on the board in eight plays.

Facing fourth-and-11 from the 25, Faulstick took a deep drop and delivered the middle screen to Rivera, who broke through the middle for the score.

“On that play, we leave everyone on the defensive line unblocked and it’s my job to drop as far as I can until they get close to me,” Faulstick said. “At that point I loft it over the top, then Brandon’s got some room with a 9-on-7 situation. He’s a tremendous athlete, so that should be six points every time.”

Commerce scored again for a 34-6 lead with 5:42 to go, but the Hurricanes put up consecutive touchdowns to close the game. A one-handed 16-yard reception by Nikolai Wright set up Rivera’s touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 from the 38 at the 3:59 mark.

Following a Commerce fumble, Rivera gathered in another middle screen and broke to the left. He spun out of a tackle, then raced down the sideline and beat the last defender into the end zone with just over two minutes left.

“Brandon was actually questionable coming into the game, he was banged up a bit,” Thompson said. “But he felt better in the second half and he made some really nice plays there.”

It appeared Amherst recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but the ball rolled out of bounds before the ’Canes could jump on it.

Faulstick finished 12-of-23 for 122 yards and the two touchdowns.

“When we went to no-huddle and opened up in the passing game, we made some plays,” Faulstick said. “But I believe on the first three possessions we didn’t gain a yard. Commerce played a heck of a game, they deserve a lot of credit.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

Commerce 34, Amherst Regional 20

at Berte Field, Springfield

Amherst 0 0 6 14—20

Commerce 0 20 0 14—34

First quarter

No scoring

Second quarter

C-D’Vonte Sewell 2-yard run (try failed)

C-Marvin Lovett 18 pass from Marque Gibson (Sewell run), 0:47

C-Nicolas Perry 41 pass from Gibson (try failed), 0:00

Third quarter

A-Brandon Rivera 25 pass from Jack Faulstick (try failed), 0:00

Fourth quarter

C-Sewell 3 run (try failed), 7:31

C-Nasir Thomas 40 pass from Gibson (Thomas pass from Gibson), 5:42

A-Rivera 38 run (try failed), 3:59

A-Rivera 63 pass from Faulstick (Noah Lamb pass from Faulstick), 2:15

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Passing: Amherst-Faulstick 12-23-122-0, Riley 1-1-14-0; Commerce-Gibson 10-14-226-1

Rushing: Amherst-Rivera 6-36, Riley 5-(-2), Wright 4-13; Commerce: Sewell 34-190

Receiving: Amherst-Rivera 4-111, Wright 3-29, Rodgers 1-16, Gibson 1-0; Commerce-Thomas 4-120, Lovett 2-53, Perry 1-41, Sewell 1-12

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