Sam Houston (9-0 SLC 6-0) clinched at least a tie for their fourth Southland Conference football championship with the win. Each of the program's first three titles (in 1991, 2001 and 2004) was a co-championship with other league teams (McNeese in 1991 and 2001 and Northwestern State in 2004). They also clinched the Southland Conference automatic NCAA playoff bid.
A win over Northwestern State in next Saturday's home finale at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium in Huntsville will give the Bearkats their first undisputed Southland crown in 24 seasons in the league.
The victory extended Sam Houston's winning streak to 11 games (going back to the last two contests of the 2010 season), the longest since the 1955 and 1956 teams set the SHSU school record with 12 consecutive victories. The 9-0 start is also Sam Houston's best since the 1956 team went 10-0.
"I thought we came out a little slow and made some mistakes early in the game," head coach Willie Fritz said. "But our defense played great all night and we were able to put it together."
Bell completed 11 of 20 passes but suffered two interceptions, ending the sophomore's streak of 133 passes without an interception going back to the McNeese State a year ago.
Richard Sincere posted his fourth 100-yard performance of the season, rushing nine times for 137 yards and a score from the wildcat formation.
Southland Conference leading rusher Tim Flanders gained 45 yards on 18 carries. Flanders ran one for a nine-yard touchdown and caught a 20-yard pass from Bell for another.
The touchdown marked Flanders' 30th career rushing TD in his two years as a Bearkat, tying McNeil Moore for second place in Sam Houston career annals. Moore scored 30 rushing TDs in 1951-53. Luther Turner holds the SHSU record with 35 rushing scores in 1985-87.
The Bearkat defense produced four turnovers as Kenneth Jenkins recovered a fumble, Dax Swanson intercepted two passes and Bookie Sneed also picked off a pass attempt. Swanson, ranked number two in NCAA Division I FCS football in interceptions coming into the contest, has intercepted four passes in the last two weeks.
"They were throwing the ball a lot and I flet like we were going to eventually get a few," Swanson said. "I told the guys at half I was going to get two and I did."
Darnell Taylor led the Bearkat defense with nine tackles and Jenkins had seven. The Bearkat block party picked up a field goal block by Preston Sanders and a point after block by Will Henry.
Sam Houston rolled up 395 yards total offense with 231 yards rushing and 164 yards passing. The defense limited the Lions to 57 yards rushing and 210 yards passing for 267 in total offense.
Southeastern Louisiana opened the scoring with a 36-yard Seth Sebastian field goal at the 8:39 mark in the first quarter. Brian Young hit Simmie Yarborough for a 42-yard pass on the first play of the drive to set up the field goal. The Lions' score marked only the third time in nine games this year that a Bearkat opponent scored first.
The Bearkats responded immediately, driving 44 yards in five plays after a Brian Closner 13-yard return of a short kickoff. The big play on the drive was a 39-yard Bell to Flanders yards to the SLU 13. Two plays later, Flanders ran for a nine-yard touchdown with 5:54 remaining in the first period. Craig Alaniz added the extra point.
On its next possession, Sam Houston went 65-yards in 10 plays. A 19-yard run by Sincere was the longest play on the drive. Bell scored from the one-yard line to build a 14-3 lead.
After Bell's first interception Sebastian attempted a field goal that was blocked by Preston Sanders and recovered at the Southeastern Louisiana 38-yard line by Mike Littleton. Bell passed to Sincere for 34 yards then ran in for a touchdown to complete a two-play scoring drive and give the Kats a 21-3 lead going into the locker room at intermission.
Kenneth Jenkins recovered a Southeastern Louisiana fumble at the Lion 20 late in the third quarter. It took one play for the Bearkats to make the score 28-3 as Bell hit Flanders for a 20-yard touchdown pass with 2:58 left in the period.
Alaniz completed an 11-play 63-yard drive with a 22-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. Swanson's second interception of the game set up a 38-yard TD run by Sincere to put Sam Houston 38-3 with 11:07 to play.
Brian Young, who led Southeastern Louisiana completing 21 of 49 passes for 204 yards, hit Kory Theodore for a 19-yard touchdown with 4:28 left in the game.
Sam Houston completes its regular season home schedule Saturday November 12 when the Bearkats play host to the Northwestern State Demons at 3 p.m. at Elliott T. Boewrs Stadium in Huntsville.
Saturday's game will be telecast to a three-state regional television audience by the Southland TV Network.
Tickets for the contest are on sale now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the Sam Houston State athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium.
The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Telephone number for the ticket office is (936) 294-1729.
A special feature of Saturday's game will be a postgame autograph session with the players for Bearkat season ticket holds.
Military, community service (fire department, emergency service and police) and Texas Department of Criminal Justice personnel will be able to purchase $15 tickets to any of the six Bearkat home football games this season for just $10 under the new "Hillcrest Heroes" discount.
To receive the discount, personnel can present their military, TDCJ or community service identification at the box office. The discount applies to both current and retired personnel. The discount also will be available for home volleyball, men's and women's basketball, baseball and softball events at Sam Houston State University.
Pizza Hut in Huntsville offers Bearkat fans a great way to earn tickets to Sam Houston State's Southland Conference showdown with the Northwestern State Demons on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Starting this week, any customer can call into the two Pizza Hut locations in Huntsville and received two tickets to the Nov. 12 game by ordering a large pizza for takeout or delivery.
Customers must mention the Bearkat ticket offer during their order to receive the tickets.
Huntsville area Pizza Hut locations are 3010 Highway 30 and 4030 Sam Houston Avenue. Telephone numbers for the locations are (936) 294-9191 and (936) 295-5586. The ticket offer is good through Nov. 11 or whenever the ticket supply runs out.
Texas Farm Bureau members will receive a complimentary general admission ticket just by showing a membership card or a recent billing statement at Saturday's game. The offer is a special benefit arranged by Texas Farm Bureau for its membership. The offer is only good for one ticket per member. Proof of membership will be requested at the time of ticket pick up.