When Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin duel in the 87th "Battle of the Piney Woods" in Reliant Stadium Saturday, Oct. 6, the contest will be more than another contest in the annual rivalry game and a meeting between the two teams listed one and two in the preseason Southland Conference preseason poll.

The date also will mark the 100th anniversary of Sam Houston State University's first football game.

The Rice Owls defeated Sam Houston 20-6 on Oct. 6, 1912 in Huntsville.

Dr. S. R. Warner, who had come to Huntsville as an instructor in the biology department and had played football as a student at William & Mary, served as volunteer coach for the first two Sam Houston football teams in 1912 and 1913.

The first team consisted of 19 players whose average height and weight were 5-8 and 150 pounds.

Lynn Baldwin scored Sam Houston's first touchdown on a five-yard run for the team's only points against Rice. Baldwin never punted but passed out of bounds on fourth down. Under 1912 rules, the opponent would take over possession where the pass crossed the sideline.

The Sam Houston football team won their next two games, defeating Bryan Baptist Academy 27-6 and Blinn College 18-6. Lon Morris College defeated Sam Houston 19-7 in the final game of the year. All three games also were played in Huntsville.

Sam Houston, then known as Sam Houston Normal Institute, was not known as the Bearkats until 1923. The nickname used for the athletic teams was "The Normals."

The coming 2012 football campaign marks the 97th season in Bearkat gridiron history. The university did not field teams in 1918 (during World War I) and in 1943, 1944 and 1945 (during World War II).

During its 96 previous years of play, the Sam Houston football program has rolled up a record 460 victories, 444 losses and 34 ties.

Making their first conference affiliation in 1923 as a member of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA), Sam Houston also competed in the Lone Star Conference from 1932 to 1983, the Gulf Star Conference from 1984 to 1986 and the Southland Conference from 1987 to the present.

The Bearkats have totaled 11 conference championships (TIAA 1930; LSC 1955, 1956, 1961 and 1964; Gulf Star 1985 and 1986 and Southland 1991, 2001, 2004 and 2011).

Coming off Sam Houston State's most successful season ever in 2011, the 2012 Bearkats open their 97th season Saturday Oct. 8 against Incarnate Word in a 6 p.m. game at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium.

The Kats earned the No. 1 national ranking with a 14-1 record in 2011, winning the Southland Conference championship and advancing to the NCAA Division I national finals in Frisco.

Season tickets for Bearkat football are available now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone is (936) 294-1729.