With 14 weeks to go before the 87th "Battle of the Piney Woods" at Reliant Stadium in Houston October 6, GoBearkats.com presents the next installment of"Great Performances" in Piney Woods history.
Sam Houston 27, Stephen F. Austin 6
After consecutive post-season bowl appearances and top three Lone Star Conference finishes in 1952 and 1953, the Bearkats dropped to fourth place in the league in 1954.
Despite a 47-25 victory over Stephen F. Austin in the season finale, the Bearkats finished behind the rival Lumberjacks in the Lone Star standings for only the second time since World War II.
Sam Houston head coach Paul "Red" Pierce reloaded the next season as the 1955 race proved to be one of the tightest in LSC history.
The Bearkats rolled through their first three conference games, defeating Sul Ross 47-7, Texas A&I 36-25 and Lamar 46-13 before a 14-0 Homecoming loss to East Texas.
However, following a thrilling 16-14 victory over Southwest Texas State and a 27-7 win by the Bobcats over East Texas, the conference championship was on the line when the Bearkats traveled to Nacogdoches for the 1955 season finale.
Sam Houston's rushing attack was the best in the conference, averaging 255 yards per game thanks to Bennie Boles, a 160-pound halfback from Center . Quarterback Allen Boren also could put the ball in the air when necessary, ranking third in the Lone Star in passing yardage.
The Bearkats opened the scoring with a 27-yard run up the middle by fullback Herman Tidwell.
"Devastating ground play and an equally adept passing attack provided the finishing touchdowns for the Sam Houston offense," the Alcalde reported.
SFA equalized after an 88-yard drive. But Sam Houston's defense turned the game around with a fumble recovery at the SFA 36-yard-line, setting up a score by Boles.
"Sam Houston was never again in trouble as the Bearkats rolled through the Jacks to cinch a tie for the Lone State Conference championship," reported the Sam Houston Alcaldi.
East Texas and Southwest Texas joined the Bearkats in the first three-way tie for the football championship in Lone Star Conference history. All three ended conference action with 5-1 records.
The title was Sam Houston's first league crown in the Lone Star and the Bearkats' second in school history.
Boles ended the season with 906 yards rushing on 133 carries, then the second highest single season rushing total by a Bearkat back. The halfback was a first team All-Lone Star and Associated Press Little All-America selection.
Bearkat center J. W. Towns also was named to the All-Lone Star first team. Boren, end Tommy Davis and tackle Jerry Hentschel all were named to the All-Lone Star Conference second team.
Boren would return to Sam Houston as head football coach in 1972 and 1973. Davis, who later became a math professor at the university, was inducted into the Southland Conference Hall of Honor after more than three decades of service as Sam Houston's faculty athletic representative.
The next chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry sees Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin battle at Reliant Stadium in Houston Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.
Crowds of more than 25,000 have packed the lower bowl at Reliant each of the past two years and tickets are going fast.
Battle of the Piney Woods Tickets are now on sale through the university's athletic website. Fans also can purchase tickets at the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone at Bowers Stadium or by calling ticket office at (936) 294-1729.