HUNTSVILLE -- Sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson rushed for 190 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 192 yards and two more scores as Sam Houston upset FCS No. 4 ranked McNeese State 38-22 Saturday at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.
Johnson’s 11 carries for 190 yards marked the highest single game rushing total by a Bearkat running back. The old mark was 16 carries for 163 yards by Ashley Van Meter vs. North Texas. The total included scoring runs of 73 and 67 yards.
The quarterback also hit LaDarius Brown for a nine-yard TD pass and Yedidiah Louis for a 22-yard tally.
The victory marked Sam Houston’s eighth victory in its 28seasons as an FCS competitor to defeat a top 5 ranked opponent. Four of those eight wins have come at Bowers Stadium.
McNeese quarterback Daniel Sams rushed 20 times for 130 yards and a touchdown. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 84 yards including a 10-yard scoring pass to Kahlil Thomas.
Johnson’s heroics overshadowed an outstanding performance by the Bearkat defense.
McNeese came into the contest ranked No. 1 in the Southland Conference in scoring offense (44.5 points), rushing offense (277.5 yards) and No. 2 in the league in total offense (475.0 yards per game).
The Kat defense limited the Cowboys to 298 yards total offense (209 on the ground and 89 in the air).
Defensive end P. J. Hall, a candidate for the Jerry Rice award as FCS “Freshman of the Year,” led the Kats with 11 tackles including three for losses. Safety Michael Wade added nine stops.
The Bearkats never trailed, scoring on their first drive of the game.
Sam Houston drove 75 yards in nine plays on its opening drive as Keshawn Hill scored from the nine two minutes and 23 seconds into the contest. A 39-yard pass from Johnson to LaDarius Brown to the McNeese 16-yard line was a key play in the drive.
Ten minutes later, Brown caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to complete an eight-play 69-yard drive and SHSU up 14-0 with 2:40 to go in the first period.
Daniel Sams put the Cowboys on the board 11 seconds into the second quarter with a 29-yard run to complete a 65-yard scoring drive..
Johnson rolled his left and raced up the sideline for a 73-yard scorer to up the Kats ahead 21-7 with 2:14 remaining before intermission.
Yedidiah Louis opened the scoring in the third quarter on a 22-yard pass from Johnson, the freshman’s first college touchdown. The play completed a 7-play, 55-yard drive as Sam Houston extended its lead to 28-7.
After a three-and-out by McNeese, Johnson broke for a 67-yard touchdown run thanks to a block by Louis at the Cowboy 37. The two-play, 75-yard drive put Sam Houston up 35-7 with 6:42 to play in the third.
McNeese turned a fumble recovery into an eight-play, 54-yard scoring drive as Ryan Ross scored from the seven-yard line to cut SHSU’s margin to 35-14 with 13:12 to play.
The Kats bounced back for a 44-yard field goal by Luc Swimberge, his longest of the season. The score was set up by a 48-yard screen pass from Johnson to Jalen Overstreet to the Cowboy 29.
The Cowboys cut the lead to 38-22 with 4:41 to play after a 15-play, 74-yard drive ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sams to Khalil Thomas. Sams ran for a successful two-point conversion.
Next up for Sam Houston is a road game next Saturday at Northwestern State.