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Courtesy: Brian Blalock/SHSU
Bearkats vs. Demons Preview
Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Release: 11/09/2012
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BSN Preview for NWST Game
When No. 3 Sam Houston State visits Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, La., Saturday for its 3 p.m. Southland Conference football game with Northwestern State, the Bearkats know they will be walking into a hostile environment.

During the 35-game football series between the Bearkats and the Demons which saw its beginning in 1930, Northwestern State has dominated Sam Houston in Natchitoches, winning 14 of 19 games on the Demons' home field.

In its 97 seasons of football Sam Houston has gone 27-53-3 east of the Sabine River.

This season, Northwestern State stands 4-0 at home at Turpin Stadium. The Demons will be shooting for their seventh perfect home slate at Turpin since the stadium opened in 1977.

Wrapping up the home schedule will be no easy task for the Demons, however.

Sam Houston State, which played for the national championship last season and swept through the Southland Conference, is visiting Turpin Stadium ranked No. 3 nationally, with a chance to claim a share of the Southland title alongside Central Arkansas.

Northwestern has fallen in its last six matchups with ranked FCS foes, following a 2010 win at No. 22 Central Arkansas with defeats at the hands of Top 25 teams Stephen F. Austin (2010), McNeese, UCA and Sam Houston (2011), McNeese (2012) and UCA (2012).

The Bearkats beat the Demons 43-17 last year in Huntsville. Two years ago, NSU celebrated Homecoming with a memorable 23-20 double overtime triumph over Sam Houston in Turpin Stadium.

Last week, Northwestern fell 35-14 at No. 13-ranked UCA as the Bears clinched at least a share of the Southland crown and locked up the league's automatic FCS playoff berth. Sam Houston weathered a 90-minute lightning delay at home while smoking Southeastern Louisiana 70-0.

The Bearkats have scored at least 41 points in their last six games, averaging 52 per game, and have outscored their last four foes (Nicholls, McNeese, Lamar, SLU) 212-17. Overall this season, they lead FCS with a 45.6 scoring average and have nine Top 10 stat rankings among the NCAA's 17 team categories.

Northwestern State hopes to slow down the Bearkats and keep the contest close. In six of their nine games this year, including the first four Southland Conference contests, the Demons have taken the outcome down to the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. They're 3-3 in games settled in the fourth quarter.

Should Sam Houston win Saturday, the victory would mark another streak for Northwestern State.

In each of the last four seasons the Demons have seen a postgame Southland Conference championship trophy celebration by their opponents.

 In the season finale in 2009 and 2010, Stephen F. Austin enjoyed the ceremonies (the Demons could have been center stage if they'd won at SFA in 2010), then in 2011 it was Sam Houston raising the hardware in Huntsville. Last Saturday, UCA clinched a share of the 2012 crown in Conway. Saturday, Sam Houston can grab its half with a win at Turpin Stadium.

Three Sam Houston State coaches have Northwestern State ties. Both Bearkat coordinators are former Demon coaches, offensive coordinator Doug Ruse and defensive coordinator Scott Stoker, along with SHSU safeties coach Ben Beasley.

 Ruse coached with NSU head coach Bradley Dale Peveto on Sam Goodwin's Demon staff from 1996-98, as Northwestern won Southland titles in 1997-98, made playoff appearances and reached the 1998 semifinals.

Stoker set the single-season and career passing records and led NSU to the 1988 Southland title and the playoff quarterfinals, was an assistant coach from 1990-93, and was head coach at NSU from 2002-08, winning 42 games, guiding the 2002 and 2004 teams into the playoffs and a 2004 Southland cochampionship with Sam Houston.

He is in NSU's Graduate N Club Hall of Fame for his outstanding playing career from 1986-89. Demons' running backs coach Matt Powledge is a former Bearkat fullback who finished at SHSU in 2009. He was a four-year letterman, a 2008 All-Southland Conference pick and a team captain as a senior.

Kickoff time for the Sam Houston State versus Northwestern State football game has been moved up to 3 p.m. Saturday at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches, La.

The contest now will be televised to a four-state audience on the Southland Television Network.

A victory by Sam Houston Saturday afternoon will earn the Bearkats their second consecutive Southland Conference football championship.

The KUBE in Houston (Channel 15 on SuddenLink in Huntsville) is the local area outlet.

Sam Houston will be making its 15th TV appearance in the past two years. Overall, the Kats have been telecast 43 times since SHSU moved up to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and the Southland Conference. The Kats have won 25 of those games.

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