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Globe/Gary Crow Commerce’s Jimmy Brock tries to elude Sallisaw Central’s Bubba Dickensin during Friday night’s playoff game in Commerce, Okla.

By Zach Ewing

zewing@joplinglobe.com

COMMERCE, Okla. - Jared Dopp had been Commerce's big-play machine all season long, so when he went out with a broken arm during the Tigers' regular-season finale, someone had to fill the void.

Enter junior James Sullivan, who re-emerged as a breakaway back Friday night.

Sullivan broke a 47-yard touchdown run on Commerce's first offensive play and ran for 151 yards on 17 carries to lead the Commerce Tigers to a 41-6 win against the Sallisaw Central Tigers in a first-round playoff game at Tiger Field.

"James is very deceiving," Commerce coach Rick Trimble said. "He's kind of a stocky kid, a strong-built kid, but he's a little faster than he looks. And he's a tough kid, a hard-nosed kid."

The effort from Sullivan, who is 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, spearheaded a dominant Commerce rushing game that gained all 268 of the team's yards. Senior quarterback Daniel Walker had three touchdowns and 51 yards on eight carries and sophomore Josh Pilkinton carried nine times for 43 yards.

"Our offensive line blocked good and we just kind of ran right at them," Sullivan said.

Commerce (8-2) advanced to the Oklahoma round of 16, where it will play either Crooked Oak or Hominy at home Saturday night.

Sullivan's touchdown run, which came just 2:15 into the game, ended up sparking a rout. But Central (7-4) didn't roll over right away. It forced a punt on Commerce's second drive and then went 73 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown.

Commerce's Nathan Webb blocked the extra point, though, preserving a lead for the home team that it never lost.

With about five minutes to play in the first half, Central punter Jace Coffman dropped a long snap and had to fall on it at the Central 24-yard line. Walker ran in on a bootleg two minutes later to make it 14-6.

After a Central three-and-out, Commerce had 1:57 left and the ball at its own 48.

Big-play Sullivan struck again, taking a second-and-11 handoff, breaking a tackle and rumbling for a 31-yard gain. On the next play, Walker gained 17 on a shifty run to the right, and Commerce went on to score a crucial touchdown with 26 seconds to spare.

After that, the game was no contest.

"We came out in the second half and just pretty much controlled them on both sides of the ball," Trimble said.

In contrast to Commerce's balanced running attack, Central's offense consisted of quarterback Stevie Morris and nearly nothing else.

Morris passed or ran on 54 of Central's first 57 plays and finished with 153 yards on 22-of-38 passing and 78 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

Even when Morris got Central going with a boatload of short passes and quarterback draws, Commerce had an answer. A fourth-quarter drive that lasted 15 plays ended when Commerce senior Jordan Beckwith intercepted Morris a yard deep in the end zone and sprinted all the way down the left sideline for a touchdown.

That big play, though, was just icing on a blowout victory. The plays that built the win came from Sullivan, though to him, it didn't seem that complicated.

"I just try to run hard and lower my shoulder," he said. "I don't try to juke anybody out or anything. I just take what I can get."

Commerce 41, Sallisaw Central 6

Central713147-41

Commerce0600-6

Com-James Sullivan 47 run (Jordan Beckwith kick)

Cen-Stevie Morris 9 run (kick blocked)

Com-Daniel Walker 4 run (Beckwith kick)

Com-Walker 2 run (kick failed)

Com-Walker 6 run (Jimmy Brock run)

Com-Josh Pilkinton 1 run (kick blocked)

Com-Beckwith 101 interception return (Beckwith kick)

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