Sam Houston State improved its record to 2-1 with a 55-17 win against Texas Southern on Saturday.
Senior running back Timothy Flanders became the Southland Conference all-time touchdown leader after posting two scores and 108 yards on the ground.
Both teams struggled with turnovers early in the game as the first quarter ended scoreless. Texas Southern was first on the scoreboard with a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter by Eric Medina.
It was all Sam Houston from there.
Bearkats head coach Willie Fritz said he was especially pleased with the defensive stops made by SHSU in key situations, and the response from the offense after a sluggish start.
“Thank goodness there’s more than one quarter in a game,” Fritz said. “We didn’t start off real well but I thought our guys started clicking, especially offensively. In the second quarter, I thought our defense had a bunch of big stops early and really kept us in the ballgame. I saw some good things out there with all three phases.”
Flanders surpassed Brent Grimes of Central Arkansas for the Southland Conference all-time touchdown record (59) with a two-yard run to give the Bearkats their first score of the game. Flanders’ two scores set the new conference touchdown record at 61.
Flanders is 131 yards away from becoming the Southland Conference all-time rushing leader.
“It felt good,” Flanders said of breaking the touchdown record. “The offensive line did a very good job. They knew (about the record). I thank them and the coaches. We talked about it before the season even started, about getting all of these records. But I look at it as another team record.”
Senior quarterback Brian Bell found Torrance Williams in the end zone for a six-yard score with 4:35 to go in the second quarter. Bell ran for a three-yard touchdown and Flanders scored from one yard out to give SHSU a 27-3 halftime lead.
There were three Bearkat turnovers in the first half; a fumble by wide receiver Chance Nelson on the opening drive, and interceptions in the first and second quarter from Bell.
Flanders said the initial struggles on offense were simply examples of SHSU not taking advantage of opportunities, which changed midway through the second quarter.
“We were driving the ball but we had to go back to what we were doing from the basics,” said Flanders, who even recorded a tackle on an interception return. “It was a lot of us getting frustrated. We can’t come out and play like that. But we picked it up and everything happened.”
Defensively, linebackers Tanner Brock and Eric Fieilo totaled three sacks – two for Brock. Fieilo said playing against Texas A&M the previous week helped prepare the SHSU defense for going against a fast tempo offense like Texas Southern’s.
“We kind of got used to as the game went on,” Fieilo said. “That was the only adjustment.”
Shane Young scored on a five-yard pass from Bell in the third quarter. Keshawn Hill ran for a 23-yard touchdown.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Ragan Henderson caught a five-yard touchdown throw from Bell.
Texas Southern recorded touchdowns on a 50-yard run by Daveonn Porter in the third quarter, then quarterback Homer Causey ran from 10 yards out.
SHSU senior running back Ryan Wilson scored on a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Bearkats improved to 2-1 on the season. The Tigers dropped to 0-2.
Sam Houston returns to the field next Saturday to host Incarnate Word at 6 p.m.