With 11 of the top 12 team leaders in tackles back from a squad that led the Southland Conference in rush defense last year, Sam Houston is putting up numbers that rank high in the NCAA Division I FCS national statistics.

The Bearkat defense stands No. 2 nationally in rushing defense (42.0 yards per game), No. 3 in scoring defense (8.0), No. 7 in total defense (243.5) and No. 10 in quarterback sacks (3.5).

Sam Houston's two victories have come over Western Illinois, an NCAA FCS national playoff participant last year, and Central Arkansas, a squad that came into Huntsville ranked No. 18 nationally.

Junior safety Darnell Taylor of Mesquite leads the Bearkats with 18 total tackles in two games. Other top tacklers include defensive back Mike Littleton (14) and linebackers Eric Fieilo (10) and Darius Taylor (11).

Sam Houston has allowed only 84 net yards rushing in two games, an average of 42.0 per contest and only 1.6 yards per attempt.

Bearkat opponents have fought their way inside the Sam Houston 20-yard line only four times, producing only  a touchdown and a field goal in those visits inside the red zone.

Taylor is one of nine defensive starters returning from last year's team that won six of its last nine games. Senior linebacker Will Henry and junior defensive lineman J. T. Cleveland  were second team all-conference in 2010.  Defensive backs Taylor, Dax Swanson  and Bookie Sneed all were honorable mention All-Southland selections last fall.

Other returning starters on defense include linemen and senior Eddie Decambre  and senior linebacker Kash David.

Sam Houston's 2-0 season start for the first since since 2007 when Sam Houston opened with home wins at Bowers Stadium over Angelo State and Arkansas-Monticello. In its 26 seasons of football at the NCAA Division I level, SHSU has started 2-0 seven times (1991, 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2007).

The Bearkats face NCAA Division I Football Bowl Championship Subdivision opponent University of New Mexico next Saturday in Albuquerque.

Sam Houston returns home on Oct. 1 to host UTSA in a 6 p.m. duel at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium. Tickets are available online now at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House.

Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.