Sam Houston students and fans may still purchase end zone tickets for $15 and corner tickets for $20 for Saturday's game at Reliant Stadium. Tickets are available online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. The ticket office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. The telephone number for tickets is (936) 294-1729.
FOURTH OLDEST CONTINUOUS RIVALRY IN TEXAS
Each year, the "Battle of the Piney Woods" rivalry game at Reliant Stadium in Houston between Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin just gets bigger and bigger.
In 2010, 24,685 fans packed the lower bowl at Reliant Stadium. Last season, 25,145 specators saw the contest.
This year, with the Texas Aggies' exodus from the Big 12 to the SEC, the Bearkat-Lumberjack rivalry has become the fourth oldest continuous college football rivalry in the state.
"BATTLE OF THE PINEY WOODS" HISTORY
The Bearkats versus Lumberjacks series dates back to 1923. Sam Houston State holds a 49-35-2 edge in the series.
During the 1930s, "The Battle of the Piney Woods" was an annual Thanksgiving Day football game. Prior to 1983, it was the season finale for both teams. The Kats and the Jacks settled on a mid-October date after both moved up to the NCAA Division I Southland Conference.
Since 2007, the winner of the "Battle of the Piney Woods" has earned a 21-pound solid cedar trophy that displays replica pistols from Texas' frontier past. The logos from both universities are engraved on the handle of the pistols above name plates that will display the outcomes of the contest for the next two decades.
RECORD TEXAS FCS CROWDS AT RELIANT
The crowds of 24,685 fans in 2010 and 25,145 spectators last year at Reliant Stadium stand as the largest in Sam Houston-Stephen F. Austin series history. It also was the largest crowd for any Bearkat or Lumberjack game versus an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
SOUTHLAND TELEVISION NETWORK
Saturday's SHSU-SFA game will be telecast to a four-state audience by the Southland Television Network. The KUBE in Houston (Channel 15 on SuddenLink in Huntsville) is the local area outlet.
Sam Houston will be making its 12th television appearance in the past two seasons. Overall, Bearkat games have been telecast 40 times since SHSU moved up to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and the Southland Conference. The Kats have won 22 of those games.
KSAM 101.7 FM will broadcast all Sam Houston games home and away again. The broadcast also may be heard anywhere in the world online at www.gobearkats.com. Streaming video of home games at Bowers Stadium is also available at a modest rate.
Walter Payton Award candidate Timothy Flanders - already Sam Houston's all-time rushing leader - stands 11th in all-time Southland Conference rushing yards with a career total of 2,967 in 29 games.
Flanders is 34 yards away from becoming the 10th Southland Conference running back to gain more than 3,000 career yards. The Midwest City, Okla., product ranks fifth in Southland career rushing touchdowns (39) and sixth in league annals in total touchdowns (42)
Two more touchdowns will allow Flanders to pass kicker Billy Hayes (258 points on 117 PATs and 47 field goals in 1985-88) in all-time Sam Houston scoring. Flanders has scored 252 points.
Senior kicking specialist Miguel Antonio stands No. 4 in all-time Bearkat career scoring with 228 points (114 PAT, 38 FG).
Wide receiver Trey Diller has shown big-play potential as well this year. He leads Bearkat receiving with 16 catches for 235 yards including a long gain of 41 yards. He also stands 17th nationally in punt returns with a 9.8 average (12 for 499 including a long return of 49 yards) and a 32-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Brian Bell now stands No. 4 in Bearkat career passing with 4,299 yards in the air including 33 TD passes. Dustin Long (2004) is the next target standing No. 3 in the SHSU passing records with 4,588 career yards.
Bell also ranks No. 4 in career total offense yards with 4,902.
Senior cornerback Dax Swanson intercepted passes against Baylor and Texas Southern to up his career total to 12 interceptions. Ronnie Choate (1955-59) holds the SHSU career interception record with 13. Gary Kimble (1981-84) and Mark Hughes (2001-04) also picked off 12 career interceptions.
Junior Preston Sanders blocked a field goal and an extra point to move into fourth place in career blocks with five. Four of the five blocks have been field goals, a school mark.
Senior Kenneth Jenkins picked up Sanders' PAT block after Texas Southern's only TD and returned it for a defensive PAT return, only the second in SHSU school history. The first was by Courtney Boston against Mississippi Valley State in 2001.
Senior safety Darnell Taylor leads the Sam Houston in tackles this season with 31. He now ranks No. 7 in Bearkat career tackles with 267.
KATS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
Sam Houston stands No. 9 in both the Sports Network Poll and the NCAA FCS Coaches national rankings this week.
SHSU has been in the top 25 in the FCS polls a total of 17 consecutive weeks since debuting in the national poll on Sept. 9, 2011.
During an 11-0 regular season, the Kats rose all the way to No. 1 at the beginning of the national playoffs. Sam Houston has ranked among the FCS top 10 for 14 consecutive weeks.
SHSU's highest ranking ever coming into the SFA game was No. 5 in 1991 when the Kats were upset by the Jacks 13-3.
This year's game marks the 16th time one or both of the teams has been nationally ranked coming into the "Piney Woods" Battle.
SAM HOUSTON PRESEASON SOUTHLAND PICK
Sam Houston is the favorite to repeat as Southland Conference champions according to the 2012 preseason poll of the league's head coaches. The Bearkats' 2011 Southland football championship was their fourth in the program's 25 years in the league. However, the first three were co-championships, making the 2011 title the Bearkats' first undisputed league crown.
Sam Houston has 29 players with at least one start in the lineup. Bearkat offensive players have combined for 228 total starts while the defense has totaled 243. Ten Bearkats have totaled more than 20 starts in their careers.
Seven Bearkat players were named to at least one NCAA Division I FCS All-America squad this season -- Tim Flanders (6 selections); Darnell Taylor (5); Travis Watson (3); Dax Swanson and Chris Crockett (2 each) and Richard Sincere and J. T. Cleveland (1 each). All but Crockett and Watson return.
LAST YEAR'S 14-1 BEARKAT RECORD
The Bearkats rolled up 14 consecutive wins to earn the program's first No. 1 national ranking and a berth in the NCAA Division I national championship game in Frisco. North Dakota State defeated SHSU 17-6 in the finals before a sellout crowd of 22,000 at FC Dallas Stadium.
Sam Houston was the only FCS team to go 11-0 through the regular season. The Kats chalked up a perfect 7-0 Southland mark, wins over five nationally-ranked FCS opponents and a victory over FBS Mountain West Conference member New Mexico.
PRESEASON ALL-SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE
Eighteen Sam Houston players have been named to the 2012 preseason All-Southland squad voted upon by the league's coaches.
Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere, the league's player of the year and offensive player of the year, respectively, along with Darnell Taylor, the reigning defensive player of the year, head the list.
Other SHSU first-team selections include defensive linemen J.T. Cleveland, Andrew Weaver and Gary Lorance and defensive backs Taylor, Kenneth Jenkins and Daxton Swanson.
Second team picks include tight end T. J. Jones, offensive lineman Matt Boyles, defensive lineman Preston Sanders, linebacker Darius Taylor, defensive backs Bookie Sneed and Robert Shaw and punter Matt Foster. Flanders, Sincere and Darnell Taylor both are on the preseason watch lists for the 2012 Walter Payton (offense) and Buch Buchanan (defense) awards.
WILLIE FRITZ WINS AFCA "COACH OF THE YEAR" AWARD
Sam Houston head coach Willie Fritz was named as American Football Coaches Association NCAA Division I FCS "Coach of the Year", the Southland Conference "Coach of the Year" and American Football Monthly FCS "Coach of the Year."
BEARKAT-LUMBERJACK RIVALRY FACTS
Sixty-four athletes who went on to play in the National Football League and 53 NCAA Division I All-Americans have participated in past "Battle of the Piney Woods" games.
The winner of the "Piney Woods" showdown has gone on to become conference champion 167times.
Since the rivalry began in 1923, Sam Houston and SFA have competed in three conferences together - the Lone Star, Gulf Star and Southland Conferences.
The Bearkats have won nine of the last 12 meetings in the "Battle of the Piney Woods".
Dwight D. Eisenhower was president of the United States the last time there was a shutout in the "Battle of the Piney Woods." The Kats blanked the Jacks 6-0 in 1959.
During the 1930s, "The Battle of the Piney Woods" was an annualThanksgiving Day football game.
Fifteen times since 1988, one or both teams have come into the "Piney Woods" shootout ranked among the nation's top 25 NCAA Division I FCS teams.
Seven of the last 11 "Battles of the Piney Woods" have been decided by a touchdown or less including the 2010 31-28 thriller.
The average weight of the players who participated in the first "Battle of the Piney Woods" football game in 1923 was 151 pounds.
The longest winning streak by either Sam Houston or SFA in "The Battle of the Piney Woods" was the Bearkats' six consecutive wins from 1938 to 1946.
Saturday marks the fourth time the "Battle of the Piney Woods" has been held in Houston. The Kats and the Jacks battled to a 14-14 tie in the Astrodome in 1976 and have met in Reliant twice.