This Week’s Schedule:
Saturday, Oct. 26
Northwestern State at Sam Houston State*, 2 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Central Arkansas*, 3 p.m. (HC; SLCTV)
McNeese State at Nicholls*, 3 p.m.
Lamar at Southeastern Louisiana*, 7 p.m. (HC; ESPN3)
Sam Houston looks to extend its home winning streak when the Bearkats play host to Northwestern State Saturday while the only unbeaten teams in the league also play conference foes.
The Cowboys have beaten defending league co-champions Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State to improve to 6-1 overall. The Cowboys are ranked No. 4 in this week’s poll, while the Lions are trying to crack the top 25.
Southeastern has beaten Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State in its first two league games and are 5-2 overall. McNeese State and Southeastern have another week before they meet Nov. 2 in Lake Charles.
McNeese State got 122 rushing yards from Marcus Wiltz to lead it to a 31-23 victory at home Saturday over Sam Houston State to stay unbeaten in Southland Conference play. The Cowboys are perched atop the standings with Southeastern Louisiana with identical 2-0 league records. The Lions won 37-22 at Northwestern State on Saturday.
After McNeese State topped Sam Houston State last Saturday there was no doubt there would be a shake up among the three Southland Conference teams ranked in the top-25 polls. McNeese State vaulted as high as No. 4 in the polls, garnering that ranking in the Sports Network poll. The Cowboys are ranked No. 7 in the FCS Coaches Poll after respective rankings of No. 9 and No. 10 last week.
The Bearkats had been the league’s top-ranked team, climbing to No. 2 rankings in both major polls, but they fell to No. 7 in the Sports Network poll and are tied for No. 8 in the coaches’ poll. Despite a two-point win on the road at Lamar, Central Arkansas slipped two spots in the Sports Network poll to No. 23 and maintained its No. 20 ranking in the coaches poll.
The Southland Conference is home to the top return men in the FCS. Southeastern Louisiana running back/kick return specialist Xavier Roberson is the national leader, averaging 37.8 yards per kick return. He is one of five players in the FCS that have scored two touchdowns on kick returns. He had a 92-yard returned for a touchdown last Saturday in the Lions’ 37-22 win over Northwestern State to go with an 82-yard touchdown return Sept. 14 in a loss at South Dakota State. The Southland has three players in the top-25 of the FCS stats in kickoff returns, including Nichols’ Carey Fortson (19th, 26.9) and McNeese State’s Diontae Spencer (22nd, 26.4).
Sam Houston State’s Torrance Williams is averaging 21.2 yards per punt return to lead the FCS. He has yet to return a punt for a touchdown, but has a long of 53 yards among his 17 returns for 361 yards, Three other Southland players rank among the top-25 punt returners in the FCS, including Lamar’s Kevin Johnson (ninth, 13.3), Stephen F. Austin’s Mike Brooks (21st, 11.1) and Northwestern State’s Ed Eagan (24th, 10.7).
Sam Houston State quarterback Brian Bell completed 23 of 37 passes for 315 yards at McNeese State last Saturday to become the 12th Southland Conference quarterback to throw for 7,000 yards. He now has 7,307 career passing yards, which ranks 11th all-time in conference history. His 67 career passing touchdowns are tied for fifth in the Southland record book. Bell is Sam Houston’s all-time winningest quarterback and has a 34-11 record in 45 starts since 2010. Bell also is only the second quarterback in school history to gain 1,000 career yards rushing. The first was David Kubiak (1,528 in 1967-70). Bell has rushed for 1,134 to become the 32nd member of Sam Houston’s 1,000-yard rushing club. He has 19 rushing touchdowns to his credit. Bell has totaled 8,441 yards offense in his career, which ranks 10th all-time in Southland annals.
Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders, a candidate for the Walter Payton Award, had 11 carries in the loss at McNeese State to become the Southland Conference record holder for career rushing attempts. He senior now has 891 for his career, topping the previous record held by former Texas State running back Claude Mathis. Flanders already holds Southland career marks for touchdowns scored (65), rushing touchdowns (61) and rushing yards (5,105) and season records for rushing yards (1,644), rushing touchdown (22) and total touchdowns (24), all in 2011. Flanders became the 22nd FCS player to rush for 5,000 career yards against Eastern Washington in September. Now with 5,105 yards, he is No. 18 all-time among FCS players. He also stands No. 12 in FCS career rushing touchdowns with 61. Flanders, who has 29 career 100-yard games and three 200-yard games, ranks eighth this season in rushing yards per game (124.4) and 10th in rushing yards 871.
With wins in each of its last 19 home games, Sam Houston State leads the FCS and is tied for the Division I lead with Michigan. Already with a 5-0 record at home this season, the Bearkats streak dates back to a 33-28 loss to McNeese State on Nov. 13, 2010. Sam Houston returns to Elliott T. Bowers Stadium on Saturday against Northwestern State.
Sam Houston State defensive lineman Mouf Adebo and UIW quarterback Trent Brittain are among the 20 players named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List. The Jerry Rice Award, in its third year of existence, is given to the top freshman in the FCS. Adebo is second on the team with three sacks through six games this season. The Mansfield High School product has 18 total tackles, six of them for a loss. In the Bearkats’ win over No. 2/3 Eastern Washington Sept. 28, Adebo sacked the Eagles’ versatile quarterback Vernon Adams for a loss of seven yards.
Three from Southland Named Semifinalists for Campbell Trophy: Three Southland Conference football players are among the 170 candidates for the National Scholar-Athlete Awards, the National Football Foundation announced Oct. 2. Lamar senior punter Kollin Kahler, Sam Houston State senior offensive lineman Matt Boyles and Stephen F. Austin senior offensive lineman Ryne Chambers are among the 46 FCS players that are now semifinalists for the 2013 William V. Campbell Trophy, which recognizes an individual as the absolute best football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Northwestern State, the Bearkats’ foe Saturday, dipped to 3-4 overall and 0-2 in Southland Conference play after dropping their homecoming to Southeastern Louisiana, 37-22.Sophomore Ed Eagan had 145 yards receiving on seven catches vs. Southeastern, the most receiving yardage by a Demon since Darius Duffy had 147 on 12 catches in the 10th game of the 2009 season, also against Southeastern.
Tickets for the Sam Houston tilt with the Demons Saturday are available now online at www.gobearkats.com or at the SHSU athletic ticket office.
The ticket office is located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone of Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ticket office telephone number is (936) 294-1729.