WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The Midwestern State Mustangs and the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions have been involved in some big battles over the past five years.
Saturday night's top-10 showdown in Memorial Stadium was no exception.
The 10th-ranked Mustangs hit them with their best shots early, then held off a late challenge by the second-ranked Lions to take a 47-42 win in front of 9,201 fans.
The Mustangs (4-0, 3-0 LSC) have now won three straight against the Lions and six of the last seven with five of the games being decided by six points or less.
The win over the No. 2 Lions (4-1, 2-1) was the highest-ranked for an MSU team has ever beaten.
The teams battled back and forth through a scoreless first quarter before the Mustangs got on the board late. Xavier Land and Layton Rabb hooked up on a 22-yard scoring pass, but the PAT was no good and MSU held a 6-0 lead.
Rabb, last week's Lone Star Conference Offensive Player of the Week, hooked up with Tyrique Edwards for a 23-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-0 and Vincent Johnson made it 20-0 with a 3-yard run with 6:50 left in the half.
The Lions showed their mettle, scoring twice in the final 3:01 of the half.
But the Mustangs got a 65-yard touchdown run by Johnson in between those scores and held a 27-14 lead at the half. It was Johnson's 10th career multi-touchdown game and the third of the season.
The MSU defense, which held the Lions under 200 yards in the first half, opened the second-half scoring as Marcus Wilkerson stripped the ball from a Lions receiver and raced 48 yards for a score.
The lead grew to 40-14 on Johnson's third TD, a 4-yard run, but the Mustangs missed a second PAT, which gave the Lions some hope.
The heavyweights traded punches for the rest of the third as Buck Wilson caught a second touchdown pass from Luis Perez, only to see the Mustangs come back with Rabb hitting DeAndre Black with a 56-yard touchdown pass to close out the third.
Perez would connect with Marquis Wimberly on a 10-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth to cut the lead to 47-28.
The Lions recovered an onside kick, but Paul Manus came through with an interception deep in Mustang territory.
MSU was able to run off a little clock before giving the ball back to the Lions in good field position. They turned that into a 3-yard touchdown pass to D'Arthur Cowan and also got the two-point conversion to make it a 47-36 game.
Another onside kick was unsuccessful and the Mustang got the ball deep in A&M-C territory, only to turn it over on downs with 5:52 remaining.
The Lions took just 1:19 to get back in the end zone as Darrius Webb scored on a 15-yard run. The try for two failed and MSU led 47-42 with 4:33 left.
It was all MSU the rest of the way as the running of Johnson, Rabb and Chris Smith finished off the Lions.
Johnson finished with 133 yards on the ground and his three scores, while Rabb was 16 of 28 for 265 yards, three touchdowns and also rushed for 67 yards on the night. Edwards caught seven passes fo 94 yards and the score.
Sir'Vell Ford led the MSU defense with 11 tackles, while Josh Wydermyer had eight and DeMarcus Wilson had seven and an interception.
The two teams combined for 1,048 yards of total offense with the Mustangs accounting for 539 to the Lions 509. The Mustangs' 47 points were five more than the Lions' previous four opponents had scored against them.
The first-place Mustangs hit the road next Saturday for a 6 p.m. game against Angelo State in San Angelo.
Third-ranked Midwestern State pushed its unbeaten streak to 12 matches Saturday afternoon as Carlos Flores and Scott Doney netted goals to carry the Mustangs to a 2-0 shutout victory over UT Permian Basin at Stang Park.
UT Permian Basin (3-6-1, 2-5-0) put pressure on the Mustangs early with a pair of shots on goal, but freshman keeper Taylor Lampe collected both attempts en route to posting a season-best seven saves on the afternoon.
Midwestern State (11-0-1, 7-0-1) struck in the 32nd minute with Flores scoring his third goal of the season with a strike from the left post off a cross from Saad Acheampong.
After being held to just four shots in the opening period, UTPB attempted 12 in the second half looking for the equalizer with Lampe recording five saves in the first 15 minutes of the period.
With less than 15 minutes remaining, the Mustangs stretched their advantage to 2-0 with Doney netting his Heartland Conference-best ninth goal of the year off a rebound from Hugo Gesualdo's shot attempt that hit the left post.