The Bearkats extended the nation's longest active home winning streak to 17 games with a 52-21 victory against Incarnate Word. Not all of the players realized until early in the season just how good the Kats have been at home.
Sam Houston’s last home defeat came against McNeese State on November 6, 2010, when a controversial incompletion to Seth Patterson in the end zone could have just as easily gone the other way for the Bearkats. That was the only home loss of the 2010 season for SHSU.
Still, what the record essentially means for the Bearkats is that seniors have been part of a dominate run at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium, only losing a single five-point game there. SHSU head coach Willie Fritz, who was hired following the 2009 season in which the Kats went 5-6, can also attest to the winning culture at Bowers the last four seasons.
“It means a lot, especially from where this program’s come from to really keep winning in front of our home crowd,” senior offensive lineman Matt Boyles said. “It means a lot to us to keep that going. We really have a tradition of winning, especially at home now. So to keep that going and really just put on for our home fans and do the best we can in and out of every week, it’s cool to keep that record. Hopefully we can keep it going until we have the longest home streak record and not just the current record.”
Not that the Kats have made it a point to simply protect the house. SHSU, which went 15-1 in 2011, winning every game until the championship matchup against North Dakota State, has emphasized going 1-0 every week and not looking past the task at hand.
It was the same attitude players and coaches took in win against Incarnate Word on Saturday, knowing one of the marquee games of the regular season against No. 2 Eastern Washington was just a week away.
“It’s kind of funny because honestly I didn’t know about (the record) until a few weeks ago,” senior cornerback Bookie Sneed said. “We emphasize that 1-0 every week. Game-to-game, we don’t look past any team. When I actually heard we were on that winning streak, it just put that fire in our eyes. It’s a little talk around the locker room of keeping it going. We don’t lose at home and that attitude carries on to the away games. I think that’s a big deal with the crowd, too. The fans get us pumped up, get us ready. We’ve just got to keep it going. We take a lot of pride in it and it’s something we hold dear.”
SHSU is still only averaging more than 6,000 attendants at the first three home games of the 2013 season. That figure is less than half of the 14,000 capacity seating at Bowers Stadium.
Yet the small crowd that does attend brings an element to the game that SHSU players find motivational.
“First and foremost, our fans, I feel like they come out and bring a lot of energy,” senior quarterback Brian Bell said. “That really gets us fired up and the more people, the better it is for us. I feel like that really gives us that home environment. Everything’s just been rolling on the winning streak. It’s really a thanks to our fans, the alumni and everybody that’s coming out and supporting us. It really does make a difference.”
The Kats return to the home field Sept. 28 at 2 p.m. to face No. 2 Eastern Washington.