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Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
13 Weeks Until Piney Woods Battle
Courtesy: GoBearkats.com
Release: 07/06/2012
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With 13 weeks to go before the 87th "Battle of the Piney Woods" at Reliant Stadium in Houston October 6, GoBearkats.com presents the next installment of"Great Performances" in Piney Woods history.

This Week:
1956
Sam Houston 31, Stephen F. Austin 0

During the program's first 40 years, no Sam Houston football team came into its final regular season game undefeated and untied.

The 1930 Texas Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (TIAA) champion Bearkats lost to Rice in the second game of the season on the way to a 9-1 record.

In 1953, on the way to another 9-1 record and a Lone Star Conference co-championship, the Kats fell to East Texas in the fifth contest of the year.

Finally in 1956, the Bearkats rolled through the first eight games of the year without a loss or a tie. All that stood between Sam Houston and a perfect regular season was the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.

Head coach Paul "Red" Pierce's Bearkats were rolling through the 1956 Lone Star Conference campaign dominating teams on both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Bearkats ranked number one in the league both in total offense (322.9 yards per game) and total defense (147.7 yards per contest).

Halfback Bobby Grisham was the Lone Star Conference's leading rusher and scorer and end Tommy Davis led the LSC in pass receiving.

Upset-minded SFA, under first-year head coach Harold Fischer, came to Huntsville for the season finale after back-to-back victories over Sul Ross and East Texas State. The Lumberjacks were the Lone Star's top passing team with quarterback Votto Gaddis averaging more than 100 yards per game total offense.

"The slender quarterback is the key to the Jacks' success this year," a pre-game publication said.

More than 3,500 fans packed Pritchett Field when the Kats and the Jacks took the field on that mid-November Saturday.

"The Kats completely bottled the vaunted Lumberjack aerial attack," the Alcalde reported.

The Bearkat secondary picked off seven interceptions and limited Stephen F. Austin to only 73 yards passing as Sam Houston shut out an opponent for the fourth time during the season.

Grisham and Gayle McGinty each scored twice. Grisham opened the scoring with a one-yard dive and put the Kats up 14-0 on a 20-yard pass from quarterback Ronnie Choate.

The speedy McGinty broke the game open with a 50-yard touchdown run then added a four-yard tally later. Ben Nicholson booted an 18-yard field goal and four extra points as Sam Houston rolled to a 31-0 win.

After the game, the Esquire Club of Sam Houston and Sawyer Club of SFA presented a trophy to the Bearkats, a traditional ceremony that began in 1952.

The victory clinched league title, the second year in a row for Sam Houston to hoist the Lone Star Conference trophy. With their 9-0 mark, the Bearkats were one of only 10 unbeaten NAIA teams nationally.

The perfect season earned Sam Houston its third post-season invitational in five years as the Bearkats returned to the Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, IN, where the Bearkats defeated Middle Tennessee 27-13.

Davis and Grisham both were named to the Associated Press Little All-America teams and, with guard Ken Daw, also were first team All-Lone Star Conference honorees.

McGinty, guard Dan Thomas and fullback Herman Hodges were second team All-Lone Star Conference selections.

The only other Sam Houston football team that rolled up a perfect regular season mark -- the 2011 Southland Conference champion Bearkats -- return 50 lettermen and 19 starters for the coming 2012.

The next chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry sees Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin battle at Reliant Stadium in Houston Oct. 6 at 3 p.m.

Crowds of more than 25,000 have packed the lower bowl at Reliant each of the past two years and tickets are going fast.

Battle of the Piney Woods Tickets are now on sale through the university's athletic website. Fans also can purchase tickets at the Sam Houston athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House in the south end zone at Bowers Stadium or by calling ticket office at (936) 294-1729.

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