HUNTSVILLE – The No. 23 Sam Houston State Bearkats picked up a key win on Saturday at Bowers Stadium, holding off a late charge by Southeastern Louisiana for a 28-25 homecoming win.
Ty Brock threw for 320 yards and a score, 155 to freshman Dee Bowens, while Kyran Jackson went for 114 yards and three touchdowns on the ground to pace an offensive attack that finished with 455 total yards in the game. The final score from Jackson came from 11 yards out in the fourth quarter, giving the Kats (5-3, 4-2 SLC) a 28-10 lead that would be just enough for the win.
Meanwhile, the Lions (3-6, 3-4 SLC) punched in scores on consecutive drives to draw within three points late in the final period before the Bearkats were able to convert two crucial first downs on the ground to run out the game’s final three minutes.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Kats dominated the first quarter, punching a pair of scores across the goal line to take a quick 14-0 lead. They would rack up 151 total yards in the opening half with 64 of it coming when Brock found Bowens up the right sideline on the fourth snap of the game to put the Kats up 7-0.
A sack from Derick Roberson helped the Kats get a quick stop on Southeastern’s first drive of the day, but it was an interception by Will Lockett one drive later that set the Kats up at the Lion 13-yard line and put SHSU in position for Jackson to dive in from two yards out to up the lead.
The second quarter was not as kind, however, for Sam Houston and the Lions took advantage to get back in the game. SLU quarterback Chason Virgil found Juwan Petit-Frere for a 16-yard pass less than two minutes into the second period to cut the lead to 14-7. Four drives later the Kats held firm, keeping SLU out of the end zone after a first-and-goal try, forcing a Lion field goal with 3:11 left in the half.
Sam Houston had a chance to increase its 14-10 lead before the halftime horn, driving deep into Lion territory on its final drive. Brock found Nathan Stewart for a 40-yard bomb up the left boundary that put the Kats in business, but despite getting the ball all the way to the SLU 7-yard line, a bad snap on a field goal try on the last play of the half kept the SHSU lead at just four.
The Kats finally added back to its lead on its first drive of the second half. Completions from Brock to both Bowens and Jackson got the Kats inside the Lion 5-yard line and Jackson completed the eight-play, 55-yard drive with another two-yard score to put the Kats in front 21-10.
From there the SHSU defense held firm, forcing three straight empty SLU drives to end the quarter. Jackson then upped the lead when he burst 11 yards up the middle to cap an 80-yard drive and give the Kats a seemingly comfortable lead at 28-10.
But SLU responded, going 64 yards on eight plays on its next drive, surging back into the game at 28-17 after a 1-yard run from Devonte Williams. The Lions really made it interesting just minutes later when they marched 52 yard on six plays, ending in a 1-yard run from Virgil. The two-point conversion was good, making it just a 28-25 game with three minutes to go.
With two timeouts remaining, the Lions chose to kick deep; however, the Kats got a 10-yard rush from Brock and a 22-yard burst from Jackson on their first two plays of their final drive and were able to ice away the game just two plays later on a facemask penalty against SLU.
The Bearkats still find themselves just one game out of the top spot in the Southland Conference, but will have to travel to upstart UIW next week. Kickoff in San Antonio is set for 3 p.m. with the game set to be aired on ESPN3.
- Dee Bowens came into Saturday with just six catches and 88 yards on the season, but turned in a breakout game. The freshman hauled in a 64-yard touchdown pass from Brock to open the scoring in the first quarter – the longest play from scrimmage for the Kats this year – and finished with eight grabs and 155 yards for the game. Nathan Stewart joined him with 103 yards on five grabs.
- Defensively the Kats finished with just two sacks, but made impact plays throughout the afternoon. Both Darius Mouton and Will Lockett intercepted their first passes as Bearkats, while Derick Roberson continued to be a force in his senior year. The defensive end added 1.5 sacks to his FCS-leading total and set a new career high with 12 tackles for the game. In all, SHSU finished with 5.0 TFLs and forced a pair of fumbles.
- Kyran Jackson did much of his damage in the second half, rushing for 95 of his 114 rushing yards in the second half. He also added 32 yards on three receptions from Brock. The Bearkat quarterback had his most efficient day under center this year, completing 23 of his 32 passes and has now gone over 300 yards passing in all five of his starts.
Head coach K.C. Keeler on the win …
“It was a great win. We lost a lot of momentum there at the end of the half by not getting seven at the end there and then even worse we couldn’t get three. We addressed it in the locker room at half time and I said we go in the second half and we win the ballgame. Sometimes I looked onto the field and I saw four freshmen at the skills positions and some guys that hadn’t played a whole lot at certain spots. So, I have to give the offensive staff a lot of credit because it was a mix-and-match all game. Defensively we made some really big plays and eventually we just started to wear out.”
Keeler on the feeling in the locker room after the game …
“I made a big point that when we win the game we celebrate in the locker room and I realized that when we watched the highlight tape from the previous game there were only about 10 guys dancing including myself. I just realized we started to take winning for granted, because winning is hard especially with how banged up we are right now. When we win, everyone is dancing.”
Keeler on Dee Bowens’ big day …
“The thing I’m most excited about is that he turned the ball over going in that would have made the score 21-0 and he wasn’t shaken. He kept on playing and made so many big plays for us. When you put a freshman out there that’s one of your biggest fears that if they make a mistake are they going to go into the tank because they feel like they just left this whole team of upperclassmen down. He did the exact opposite and he dug down and just kept playing.”
Royce See on the play of the defensive backfield …
“The focus this week was to play clean. Coach always said we’ll win if we play clean. The big thing about defense is if we do our assignments they can’t move the ball. As long as we do our assignments and get our job done, we can trust the guy next to us to do the same as well.”
Will Lockett on his early interception, setting up a Bearkat score …
“It was a pretty big deal, I was excited. I was just happy to get out there and have the opportunity to play. It was exciting, it was a great moment. Really, it’s the first interception I’ve had since playing in college.”