Bear­kats post sev­enth win in a row in series

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Richard Dean Richard Dean is a free­lance writer.

When Sam Hous­ton State is rolling, it’s a tough team to beat. And when the Bear­kats aren’t at their best, they’re still a hand­ful.

The Bear­kats didn’t bring their “A” game against a charged-up Stephen F. Austin foot­ball team, but Sam Hous­ton State played well enough against its South­land Con­fer­ence ri­val to come away with a hard­earned 27-16 vic­tory Satur­day at NRG Sta­dium.

The Lum­ber­jacks held noth­ing back. Even re­cov­er­ing an on­side kick by Al­ize Ward at mid­field with 11:10 re­main­ing, down by four points. But that drive was stopped when Danzell Sims in­ter­cepted Jake Blum­rick in the end zone.

“We didn’t come here to keep it close. We came here to win,” SFA coach Clint Conque said. “We played with pur­pose, in­tent and pas­sion.”

Down 17-0 af­ter the first quar­ter, the Lum­ber­jacks made a game of it, get­ting three field goals from Storm Ruiz.

Sam Hous­ton State quar­ter­back Jeremiah Briscoe, who be­came the school’s all-time leader in pass­ing touch­downs with 85, threw for 325 yards, com­plet­ing 30 of 51 passes. Briscoe sealed the win with a 26-yard scor­ing run with 4:55 left.

“Things broke down. They were play­ing man cov­er­age, every­body’s back is turned and it’s just one of those things that works out,” said Briscoe in de­scrib­ing his scor­ing run.

Briscoe com­pleted 13 passes for 151 yards to Davion Davis, in­clud­ing his record-set­ting touch­down pass of 14 yards for the Bear­kat’s sec­ond score.

“We found a way to win,” Briscoe said. ‘Hats off ’

SFA last de­feated Sam Hous­ton in 2010, the first year the Bat­tle of the Piney Woods was played in NRG Sta­dium. Since the Lum­ber­jacks’ 31-28 win, the Bear­kats have won the last seven games. Satur­day’s crowd of 26,792 is the third largest since the series was moved to the home of the Tex­ans.

“It’s tough to win seven times in a row in any series, es­pe­cially in a game like this, the long­est-run­ning series in Texas in col­lege foot­ball,” Sam Hous­ton State coach K.C. Keeler said. “Hats off to Stephen F — they kept on bat­tling. Hats off to our kids — they didn’t panic.”

Sam Hous­ton State held a 508-219 ad­van­tage in of­fen­sive yards, but the Bear­kats were pe­nal­ized 13 times for 144 yards. Blum­rick passed for 205 yards, com­plet­ing 18 of 39 passes, but was in­ter­cepted by Sims and Hunter Brown.

The Bear­kats (4-1, 2-1) were com­ing off their first loss of the sea­son, 41-30 at Cen­tral Arkansas. SFA (2-4, 2-2), which lost to McNeese State 35-0 last week, was within seven points of the ninth-ranked Bear­kats in the fourth quar­ter. Keep­ing it close

SFA came alive in the sec­ond quar­ter, of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively.

It started with an in­ter­cep­tion by Ward, who had a game-high 12 tack­les. Ward’s 52-yard re­turn set up Ruiz’s 42-yard field, get­ting the Lum­ber­jacks to within 17-3 with 9:23 re­main­ing in the open­ing half. On the en­su­ing pos­ses­sion, SFA held the Bear­kats on downs.

And the Lum­ber­jacks took ad­van­tage. Blum­rick con­nected with Tam­rick Pace on a 53-yard pass to the Sam Hous­ton State 15. The drive ended on a 1-yard touch­down run on fourt­hand-goal by Blum­rick. Ruiz’s ex­tra point closed the deficit to 17-10.

SFA wasn’t fin­ished. Tren­ton Gor­don re­cov­ered a fum­ble at the Sam Hous­ton State 20, re­sult­ing in a Ruiz 33-yard field goal that nar­rowed the Bear­kats’ lead to 17-13 with 2:12 left in the open­ing half.

Jerry Baker

Sam Hous­ton State se­nior tight end Ra­gan Hen­der­son, left, stron­garms Stephen F. Austin de­fender Tren­ton Gor­don af­ter catch­ing a pass in the sec­ond quar­ter of Satur­day’s South­land Con­fer­ence show­down at NRG Sta­dium.

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