No. 10-ranked Midwestern State couldn't overcome five turnovers to fall to No. 11 Texas A&M-Commerce 27-14 Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for MSU, which fell to 7-1 on the season and to 4-1 Lone Star Conference play.
"We played hard but we didn't play smart enough," MSU coach Bill Maskill said. "You can't make the amount of mistakes we made and expect to do well against any football team especially one as good as this one."
Texas A&M-Commerce (7-1, 6-0) clinched its second consecutive LSC title constructing a big halftime lead using chunk plays and turnovers.
A&M-C senior quarterback Harrison Stewart connected with Darby Smith on a 55-yard pass in the first quarter to set up a 1-yard TD run by Gabe Rodriguez for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Richard Cooper, who logged his eighth consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 101 yards, gashed the MSU defense for runs of 10, 15 and 17 yards to set up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Gabe Rodriguez to Lance Evans to expand the lead to 14-0.
Stewart and Evans connected on a 33-yard pass down there right sideline and the Lions converted a fake field goal for a first down to set up an 11-yard Stewart-to-Buck Wilson scoring strike right before halftime to give A&M-Commerce a 21-0 lead.
"We gave up too many big plays and didn't move the ball as consistently as we have been able to," Maskill said. "We lost to a good football team. The bottom line is to recover from the loss. We have to get our stinger back, improve next week and get into the playoffs."
The Mustangs managed just 101 yards of total offense in the opening half before getting things going after intermission.
MSU stopped the Lions on fourth-and-1 from the MSU 25-yard line on the opening possession of the second half to seize momentum.
Junior quarterback Quade Coward ripped off runs of nine and 12 yards to convert a pair of third downs before hitting Derek Lockhart on a 13-yard strike to put the Mustangs on the board.
A shanked punt by Texas A&M-Commerce's Chase Thrasher gave the Mustangs the ball on the A&M-C 18-yard line on the next possession.
Junior running back Dante Taylor plowed his way through the center of the Lions' defense for a 13-yard gain before Coward fumbled on his way into the end zone but it was recovered by Lockhart to pull MSU to within 21-14 with 4:59 to go in the third quarter.
That was as close as the Mustangs would get as MSU's next three possessions ended with turnovers.
"At this point, it's how we approach this loss," Maskill said. "We can come back to be even better next week or we can get our dauber down. We can still obtain every goal we have in front of us. This is just one loss."
Coward, who left with an injury after he was hit on a play by Texas A&M-Commerce's Traven Johnson 5 yards out of bounds in the fourth quarter, finished with 126 yards on 14-of-26 passing while leading the team in rushing with 44 yards on eight carries.
Junior wideout Statron Jones had seven catches for 71 yards.
Daniel Laudermilk and Edgar Luna had eight tackles each to pace defensive efforts.
Midwestern State plays host to Texas A&M-Kingsville Saturday night for Homecoming at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.