Sam Houston 25, Stephen F. Austin 18
In Sam Houston's first 54 years of football, the Bearkats had chalked up single season victory totals of eight or more wins only seven times.
But, on the eve of the final game of 1970, the Kats stood just one win away from extending that total to eight years.
The 1970 squad had rolled up Sam Houston's best record since the 1964 NAIA Co-Championship season and entered its "Battle of the Piney Woods" rival game with Stephen F. Austin with a 7-2-1 record.
With a victory over SFA on that November afternoon in Nacogdoches, the Bearkats even had a shot at another Lone Star Conference title if Southwest Texas could upset nationally-ranked Texas A&I.
Tom Page had replaced Bearkat coaching legend Paul "Red" Pierce in 1968. In his second season as coach in 1969, the Kats had finished third in the Lone Star. A victory over the Jacks would better that mark.
Sam Houston rolled into Nacogdoches with a powerful ground game built around halfback Fred Reese.
Behind the blocking of an outstanding front line led by all-American Ron Carroll, Reese had rushed for more than 100 yards in five games including a 216-yard performance against McMurry. In 1970, that total ranked behind only McNeil Moore's 286 yards against Lamar in 1951.
Typical of just about every meeting between Sam Houston and SFA in the series, the Lumberjacks were itching for an upset on their home field.
The Lumberjack defense picked off three Sam Houston passes, helping Stephen F. Austin keep the outcome in doubt.
Earnest Burr scored the first Bearkat touchdown on a three-yard run and Sam Houston quarterback John O'Leary found end Chuck Hill open for a seven-yard pass.
A 15-yard touchdown run by Reese in the second half settled the issue as the Bearkats held off SFA for a 25-18 victory.
The victory gave the Bearkats an 8-2-1 record for the 1970 season, the best mark for Sam Houston since 1964.
Texas A&I ran over Southwest Texas 42-2 to nail down the Lone Star Conference title with an 8-1 record. Sam Houston finished one game back at 7-2 in league play. The Javelinas went on to win the NAIA National Championship.
Reese finished the 1970 season with 1,115 yards on 177 carries, only the second 1,000-yard rushing season for Sam Houston to that point in Bearkat history. The halfback finished his career in 1971 with 2,160 rushing yards. That total now ranks No. 7 all-time in Sam Houston career annals but, in 1970, only Moore had totaled more career yards (2,578).
Carroll, Reese and Hill along with Terry Fincher, David Kubiak, Monroe Scott and Dickey Williams earned All-Lone Star Conference honors.
The win in 1970 upped Sam Houston's "Battle of the Piney Woods" record at that point to 27 victories, 16 loses and one tie.
The next chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry sees Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin battle at Reliant Stadium in Houston Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.
Crowds of more than 25,000 have packed the lower bowl at Reliant each of the past two years and tickets are going fast.
Battle of the Piney Woods Tickets are now on sale through the university's athletic website. Fans also can purchase tickets at 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.