JACKSONVILLE, Ala. -- Sam Houston State held Jacksonville State scoreless in the second half as the Bearkats rallied to beat the Gamecocks 37-26 in the second round of the FCS Playoffs. The win advances Sam Houston State to the quarterfinals where they will face the No. 6 seed Villanova on the road.
“That was a really good football team we just beat. The last time they lost was to Michigan State opening day,” Bearkat head coach K.C. Keeler said. “They made some big plays early in the game but it didn’t rattle our guys. We’ve come together as a family and I can’t thank our players and our staff enough. What a great win for our program and now we get to figure out who we play next.”
Jared Johnson, who was 13-of-19 for 161 yards and three touchdowns, hit LaDarius Brown for a 49-yard touchdown pass to give the Kats the lead for good in third quarter. Brown finished with 88 receiving yards and two touchdowns on four catches.
Running back Jalen Overstreet gave the Bearkats some breathing room with a 33-yard touchdown run to make the score 37-26. He finished with 83 yards on 10 carries.
The SHSU defense came up with two key interceptions in the game. Linebacker Tristan Eche, who finished with six tackles and one sack, picked off a pass in the first quarter to set up a short touchdown drive.
Cornerback Mikel Everette intercepted a pass in the end zone to end a JSU scoring threat late in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks wouldn’t get the ball back after the interception.
PJ Hall finished the game with six total tackles and one tackle for loss. For the third consecutive game Hall blocked a kick. After the Gamecocks third touchdown Hall broke through the line and knocked down the extra-point attempt.
It was his fifth kick block of the season, which ties the school record for most in a season with Trey Woods (1993) and Dejuan Davis (2002).
Sam Houston would have its first lead of the game, 21-20, when Johnson threw his first of two touchdown passes to Brown.
Johnson led the Bearkats in rushing with 85 yards and one touchdown. Keshawn Hill added 48 yards on the ground and also caught a 10-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Donavan Williams had 11 rushes for 31 yards.