Editor's note: The 86th VP.com "Battle of the Piney Woods" matching Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin returns to Reliant Stadium on Saturday, October 8, 2011.
GoBearkats.Com presents a countdown of the 10 biggest plays from the rivalry each week leading up to the 2011 showdown.
Bearkats vs. SFA "Battle of the Piney Woods" Big Play #10
Joe Kirk's winning field goal - 1925
Joe Kirk, the first Sam Houston football player to earn all-conference honors, was the hero of the Bearkats' first ever victory over Stephen F. Austin in a hard-fought "Battle of the Piney Woods" played at Birdwell Field in Nacogdoches on November 21, 1925.
Just two years earlier, in April 1923, Sam Houston had made its first intercollegiate athletics conference affiliation, joining the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA).
In September 1923, approximately 94 miles away, Stephen F. Austin Teachers College opened its doors. That same fall, SFATC fielded the first Lumberjack football team under the guidance of Coach Robert Shelton.
Sam Houston was a natural opponent for the new SFA squad and coach Shelton brought his Jacks to play against Sam Houston State Teachers College in Huntsville on Nov. 17.
The contest was the beginning of what has become one of the most storied college football rivalries in Texas - "The Battle of the Piney Woods." Stephen F. Austin won the first meeting with Sam Houston 19-6. The Lumberjacks also won the second in 1924 by a 3-2 score. Both games were played in Huntsville and the losses stung.
When the two teams met for the third time in 1925, Sam Houston head coach J. W. Jones told his team he was determined "to wipe the slate clean!"
According to an account of the game in the Sam Houston annual The Alcade, the contest was "the hardest fought game of the season, the Bearkats downed the sturdy Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Nacogdoches."
Led by team captain Herbert Sandel, the Bearkat defense held SFA scoreless.
"Several times threatened scoring by the Lumberjacks was checked by a furious display of fighting sprit on the part of the Bearkats.," the Alcalde said.
Kirk, who at season's end was named as an All-TIAA selection, kicked two field goals to provide the winning points.
After only three games, the rivalry had developed into a grudge match. The Alcalde reported "In the hardest fought game of the season the Bearkats downed the sturdy Lumberjacks at Nacogdoches. This fray was marked by unusual roughness and hard playing."
The latest chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry continues Saturday, Oct. 8 when Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin meet at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Tickets for the 87th Battle of the Piney Woods may be purchased now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets .
Fans also may order their tickets through 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.
And be sure to follow the countdown of the 10 biggest plays in "Battle of the Piney Woods" history each week leading up to this year's rivalry showdown on www.gobearkats.com .
• Big Play #9 - Jimmy Hair TD pass in 1938
• Big Play #8 - Travis Tobaben 4th down pass in 2002
• Big Play #7 - Rickey Eggleston's "Cardiac Catch" in 1986
• Big Play #6 - Anthony Miller's Interception in 1992
• Big Play #5 - Taylor Wilkins OT Field Goal in 2008
• Big Play #4 - P. J. Traylor Interception ID in 2001
• Big Play #3 - Steven Hagler FG Block in 2004
• Big Play #2 - Bennie Wylie 4th Down TD in 1997