Bearkats post seventh win in a row in series
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.
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.