Saturday, October 01, 2016

Sam Houston dominates SFA 63-28 in Battle of the Piney Woods

Nathan Stewart (81) caught five passes for 183 yards
and two TDs in the first half for the Bearkats.
Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2016 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 1, 2016) Scoring 28 points in the first quarter, the No. 2 Sam Houston State Bearkats used an effective passing game to down Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks by the score of 63-28 in the Battle of the Piney Woods at Houston's NRG Stadium on Saturday, October 1, 2016. The Bearkats have won the past six matchups and 13 of the past 17 games. This year's game, the 91st edition, makes the match up the third longest continuous college football rivalry in Texas.

After five minutes of back-and-forth football, the Bearkats found their way into the end zone on a 37-yard pass from quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe to wide receiver Yedidiah Louis for the first touchdown of the game. The score capped a four-play drive at the 9:20 mark in the first quarter. They added another another touchdown two minutes, 32 seconds later when Briscoe found wide receiver Davion Davis open down the left side of the field; flinging him a 57-yard pass for the score. On the ensuing kickoff, SFA's Trevon Smith caught the ball and advanced it to their own 13-yard line, With a hard hit on Smith, Bearkat safety P.J. Giddens forced Smith to fumble; which was recovered by linebacker Santiago Montoya. As a result, Sam Houston took over on the SFA 18-yard line. Three plays later, Briscoe handed-off the ball to running back Corey Avery, who rambled the final seven yards of the possession for the Beatkats' third touchdown in less than four minutes. They added their fourth touchdown of the first quarter when Briscoe hit Nathan Stewart with a 73-yard bomb at the 2:39 mark. Four minutes later, in the second quarter, Briscoe again connected with Stewart on a 39-yard pass to take the score to 35-0 with 12:13 left in the first half.

Jabalon Allen (in the blue) got SFA's first touchdown of the game on
an 18-yard pass from Zach Conque.
Photo by Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved

The Lumberjacks finally found the endzone two minutes after Bearkats' fifth touchdown when quarterback Zach Conque hit fullback Jabralon Allen with an 18-yard pass for the TD. Kicker Storm Ruiz added the extra point to cut the Bearkat lead to 35-7. However, Sam Houston would not allow their lead to be cut, and added another Briscoe to Louis pass of 17 yards to post a 42-7 lead with 7:29 remaining in the half. Sam Houston score three additional times in the third quarter. Briscoe continued his air assault with touchdown passes to Collin Rison and Deon Hutchinson, while Corey Avery added a 21-yard rushing touchdown. The Lumberjacks added 14 points to their total in the third quarter with two touchdown passes and extra points. They also added a fourth quarter TD to their close out the scoring in the game.

Offensively, Briscoe completed 25-of-33 passes for 438 yards and seven touchdowns. Stewart caught five apsses for 183 yards, while Louis added seven catches for 119 yards. Both Stewart and Louis accounted for two touchdowns each of the Bearkats total.

Sam Houston head coach K.C. Keeler stated after the game:

I thought going in that this was possibly the best opponent that we had on our schedule. We have tremendous respect for Stephen F. Austin. But we really have had two good weeks of focused practice and it was good to see us continue to push through after not playing, what we feel, was our best football earlier in the year. I think we have gotten that mentality that we are going to have tremendous preparation as we move forward and I think we played a pretty good game tonight.

Photo by Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016 All Rights Reserved
He also commented about how good the Bearkats offense is: 

It’s tough to find a weak spot on our offense. We have really talented skill kids, like Nathan Stewart who is a true freshman. To have a third running back like Remus (Bulmer), are you kidding me? He starts for everybody in this league. And Jeremiah has really blossomed as a quarterback and his leadership skills are special. It’s been powerful to see him take this team over. With the tempo and the confidence we play at, I think the sky is the limit for this offense. 

The two schools have played each other eight times in Houston. The Kats and the Jacks battled to a 14-14 draw in the Astrodome in 1976. Sam Houston now holds a 54-35 all-time lead, with two ties. Today's win ties the longest winning streak of a school at six.. The Bearkats also won six straight games between 1937-1946.

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