FCS PLAYOFFS LIVE STATS LINK
Post-season FCS football comes to Elliott T. Bowers Stadium for the fourth consecutive year as the action starts Saturday.
Sam Houston and Southeastern Louisiana meet at 1 p.m. in one of eight opening round games. Each of Saturday’s winners move on to face a seeded opponent on the road. The season is over for the eight losers.
“This is exciting. This is what you go through all the hard work in the spring, in the summer conditioning work and each week during the fall,” Sam Houston head coach K. C. Keeler said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to play an outstanding team in Southeastern Louisiana. They’re very talented and athletic on both sides of the ball. It’s going to be a heck of a football game.”
Sam Houston joins three-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State and No. 1 seed New Hampshire as the only programs to earn berths in the playoffs each of the past four years.
With this year’s playoff appearance, Sam Houston becomes only the second team in Southland Conference history to earn four consecutive FCS playoff berths. McNeese was the first with consecutive appearances from 1991 through 1995 and 2000 to 2003.
Southeastern Louisiana is making its second appearance. The Lions reached the quarterfinals last year where they fell to eventual national finalist Towson State. Southeastern eliminated Sam Houston from last year’s championships with a 30-29 victory in Hammond in the second round.
“It’s great to play Southeastern Louisiana in the opening round since we didn’t get to play them with this year’s conference schedule,” Keeler said. “We’ve seen a lot of video of them preparing for other conference opponents this year and are very impressed with just how good they are. Southeastern Louisiana is as good as anyone we’ve faced this year, and that includes Eastern Washington.
“They have an outstanding quarterback and talented running backs and receivers. They are big and physical on defense. They nominated five secondary players for all-conference and, frankly, all five deserve recognition. We have tremendous respect for their program.”
While excited about the match-up with a conference member that Sam Houston did not have the opportunity to face during the regular season, Keeler admits the Bearkats are most happy just to be still playing.
“When you start 1-3 and end up making the playoffs, you’re just excited to be here,” Keeler said. “Getting the opportunity to play at home again is big as well. This is such a big reward for the players.”
Southeastern Louisiana head coach Ron Roberts echoed the same sentiment.
“We’re happy to have the opportunity to continue to play and look to play as long as we can,” Roberts said. “It’s an exciting process. When the schedule came out this summer, our fans were disappointed we weren’t playing Sam Houston. This game is a matchup that everybody wanted to see. We have so much respect for their program.”
Roberts is impressed with Sam Houston’s talent this year.
“There’s no doubt they are an athletic team,” Roberts said. “They may be more talented at certain positions than they were last year. To have a new quarterback that replaces a proven winner like Brian Bell and continues to win is something. Jared Johnson is a true dual threat and they have very talented running backs.”
Saturday’s game will be telecast live on ESPN3. KSAM 101.7 FM will broadcast the contest on radio in the Walker County radio.
PLAYOFF TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets will be available for purchase at all Bowers Stadium Box Office starting at 9:00 a.m. Saturday
Student tickets: First 500 to pick up a ticket receive free admission. Students may pick up a ticket at the North gate of Bowers Stadium on Saturday by showing their active Bearkat OneCard.
Will call will be open at 9:00 a.m. and is located in the West Box Office
Reserved Parking lots to Bowers Stadium will open at 9:00 a.m.
Gates to Bowers Stadium open at 11:30 a.m.