Bearkats vs. SFA "Battle of the Piney Woods" Big Play #6
Anthony Miller's interception TD ices victory
October 31, 1992 - Sam Houston 34, Stephen F. Austin 23
Emotions run high in each "Battle of the Piney Woods" and the 67th meeting of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin in 1992 was no exception.
In 1992, the Bearkats were defending Southland Conference co-champions. But the "co" in front of champions was there because of a 13-3 upset at the hands of the Lumberjacks in Nacogdoches when No. 5 Sam Houston had its starting quarterback Ashley Van Meter was on the sidelines with an injury.
The Kats were looking for payback and it was Homecoming for Sam Houston at Bowers Stadium
"I don't think we'll have any trouble getting excited this week. SFA is always a big game for us and Homecoming is always a big day," Sam Houston State coach Ron Randleman said prior to the contest. "It will be close, it will be emotional."
The head coach was right on target. The 1992 SHSU-SFA matchup was one of the most see-saw, back-and-forth battles in the "Piney Wood" series with five lead changes and the outcome not certain until the last minute.
The Jacks struck first as Christian Fontana kicked a 38-yard field goal after a 10-play 44-yard drive with 5:11 left in the first quarter.
Van Meter, who had come back from his injury that had caused him to miss the 1991 SFA game to direct the Bearkats to their second NCAA Division I playoff appearance at season's end, got a hot hand in the second quarter.
After an SFA field goal miss, Van Meter hit wide receiver Claude Stewart for a 64-yard touchdown pass to put Sam Houston up 7-3. Trey Woods, the one-armed special teams player who still holds the school record for most blocked kicks, batted down an SFA punt attempt to set up a 30-yard field goal by Marcus Hajdik with 6:41 remaining before intermission. Sam Houston went into the locker room up 10-3.
Donny Anderson recovered a Sam Houston fumble on the third quarter opening kickoff. Quarterback Mark Goddard found Shawn York open for a three-yard touchdown pass to tie the contest 10-10 less than two minutes into the second half.
After an exchange of punts, SFA drove 63 yards in 11 plays for a 36-yard Fontana field goal that gave SFA the lead for a second time 13-10 with 4:28 remaining in the third.
Greenwood Horn recovered a Lumberjack fumble at the SFA 15-yard line to set up a 27-yard field goal by Hajdik that tied the contest again at 13-13 with 54 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The kicking duel continued into the fourth quarter. A 35-yard run by Leonard Harris put SFA on the Kats' six-yard line to set up a Fontana 24-yard field goal to give the Jacks the lead again 16-13.
Sam Houston came right back, marching 82 yards in seven plays (the longest touchdown drive of the 1992 season) to regain the lead on a 21-yard Charles Oliver run.
SFA answered. After the kickoff, the Jacks took just four plays to go 61 yards for a 3-yard Harris touchdown that put Stephen F. Austin up 23-20 with 8:58 to play. The big play in the drive was a 47-yard pass from Goddard to Shawn York down to the SHSU 14.
Both teams exchanged punts with Sam Houston taking over at its own 20 with 6:24 left. Four plays later the Kats were in the end zone as Van Meter hooked up with Stewart again for a 59-yard scoring strike.
Anthony Miller clinched the victory for Sam Houston with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with 58 seconds remaining. Sam Houston had earned a 34-23 victory.
For the day, Van Meter completed 10 of 24 passes for 219 yards and Stewart had gained 176 yards on five receptions. Miller earned honors as Southland Conference "Defensive Player of the Week" and also was named as USA Today/Football News national "Player-of-the-Week."
Sam Houston ended the 1992 season with a 6-3-2 record. Van Meter's season total of 1,923 yards passing stood at that time as the fifth highest season aerial total in Sam Houston history.
The latest chapter in the "Battle of the Piney Woods" football rivalry continues Saturday, Oct. 8 when Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin meet at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Tickets for the "Battle of the Piney Woods" presented by VP.com may be purchased now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets . Fans also may order their tickets through 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.
And be sure to follow the countdown of the 10 biggest plays in "Battle of the Piney Woods" history each week leading up to this year's rivalry showdown on www.gobearkats.com .