HUNTSVILLE – Two plays in, the tone was set. The remainder followed suit.
Third-ranked Sam Houston State scored on the second play from scrimmage and made a statement in its opening Southland Conference game, defeating No. 23 Nicholls, 66-17 in front of 12,863 fans at Bowers Stadium on Saturday night.
The Bearkats (3-0, 1-0 SLC) amassed over 600 yards of offense and held the Colonels (2-2, 1-1) without a third-down conversion over their first nine attempts. It also marked the second-straight meeting against Nicholls without permitting a first-half touchdown.
The 49-point win was the largest for any Sam Houston team against a ranked opponent, besting the previous margin of 36 points which came on two occasions. That includes the most recent on Dec. 10, 2011, a 49-13 victory against No. 7 Montana State.
The 600-plus yard output was the 12th under head coach K.C. Keeler while the 307 yards allowed was the fewest given up since the two teams played in 2015. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe finished 23-for-36 with 305 yards along with three touchdowns.
Nathan Stewart produced 147 yards on seven catches alongside two scores while Javin Webb added 85 yards on the ground, courtesy of 13 carries to go with two touchdowns. Remus Bulmer totaled a pair of touchdowns and 80 yards rushing.
Sam Houston returns to action next Saturday with a visit to Central Arkansas. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. in a game that decided the Southland Conference championship a season ago. Fans can tune in to the game on ESPN3 or listen on 101.7 KSAM.
The Bearkats posted 8.1 yards per play while amassing 398 yards – including 267 through the air – to jump all over the Colonels at the break. Thirty-four seconds in Jeremiah Briscoe connected with Stewart for a 56-yard touchdown.
The speedy receiver hauled in seven receptions for 147 yards in the opening 30 minutes while adding his second score on a fade route to the corner of the endzone with 21 seconds left in the half which capped a seven-play, 75-yard drive in just 59 seconds.
Bulmer found paydirt on a pair of occasions for the second time in his career including racing 38 yards on Sam Houston’s second drive as part of 131 Bearkat rushing yards. With 7:10 to play in the half, the squad turned to Bulmer on 4th & Goal at the 1-yard line, who powered it in.
While the offense showcased its dominance, the defense was equally impressive. The unit, backed by the return of P.J. Hall, held the Colonels to 0-for-6 on third down. With 1:20 left in the half, Hall applied the pressure, forcing an errant pass from quarterback Chase Fourcade.
Adrian Contreras stepped in front of the receiver, recording his first career interception. The pick halted Nicholls’ most impressive drive (seven plays, 50 yards) at the Sam Houston 37-yard line. The interception helped secure the Kats’ lowest point total since Oct. 22, 2016, when they shut out Nicholls in Thibodaux.
HAVE YOURSELF A CAREER, YEDI
Sam Houston’s accrued 20 first downs in the opening half but it was a Yedidiah Louis 10-yard catch on the final drive that will go down in the record books. The reception was the 230th of the career for Louis, making the New Orleans native the all-time Southland Conference leader for the category.
Louis, who entered the game tied for second with 227, passed Southeastern Louisiana’s Simmie Yarborough mark of 229 with 27 seconds left in the half.
After stopping Nicholls on its opening drive, Sam Houston carried the momentum onto the offensive end, using a 29-yard rush by Bulmer to set up a 15-yard touchdown pass to Davion Davis. The reception capped a four-play, 47-yard drive in just 1:24.
The Colonels held the Bearkats on its second drive but special teams turned the ball right back to the orange and white. On the punt, Jordan Brown stripped the ball from returner Joel Dullary and P.J. Giddens fell on it at the Nicholls 37-yard line.
The Kats capitalized as Corey Avery scampered the final eight yards of the seven-play drive to paydirt. It marked the back’s 26th career touchdown, tying Avery with Charles Harris (1991-94) for fifth in Bearkat history in the category.
Caleb Griffin entered at backup quarterback with 5:40 remaining in the third and continued the trend. On the fourth play of the drive, the sophomore found Jaylen Harris down the left side for a 37-yard touchdown. It was the second career TD pass from Griffin and third for Harris.
GETTING IT DONE ON THIRD DOWN
Sam Houston’s defense held Nicholls without a third-down conversion over its first nine attempts before a six-yard quarterback keeper on 3rd & 2 marked the first. The Kats held the Colonels to just 2 of 14 on third downs for the game.
Opening statement from head coach K.C. Keeler…
“We talked all week about focus and finish for 17 days. We didn’t want to be that team that would get a lead and get disinterested. We got a lot of young guys got to play in the second half which was great. It was great to see us get a few three and outs and get the offense in the end zone. In the third period we were trying to figure out how to run the clock down, that is a good problem to have against a good football team. I thought we played at a high level on all three phases and again I think the team did really good job about coming out of halftime.”
Head coach K.C. Keeler on an emotional day and atmosphere…
“Kind of an emotional day with Sammy Webb being an honoree captain. We love Sammy and gave him the game ball because I could tell that it meant the guys a lot to have him here today. Opening day, great crowd, I couldn’t ask for anything else more. If you are a Bearkat you should be proud what happened on that field today.”
Head coach K.C. Keeler on the balanced offense…
“If you look at the numbers we are pretty balanced with all the third and fourth downs we had to get. I thought just as a team moving forward I had to go for it on third and fourth down and run the ball at them because that is going to go well for us down the road. Our offense did a really good job with Jeremiah Briscoe is playing at a high level with the wide outs doing well and we got our running backs going but the people we should recognize the offensive line. They did a great job protecting and opening up holes. We are really pleased with how the o-line is playing and was one of the bright spots today.”
Head coach K.C. Keeler on the impact of P.J. Hall…
“We just played better all-around defensively and he is a guy who makes a few plays that no one else can make and what Coach Carlin said about realizing that we were trying to do too much and just went down to two calls to simplify the defense. We made a couple tweaks and that is a good offense with good quarterback good receivers and good o-line. We got to the line and played big and physical. We think we took apart a really good football team that it wasn’t a fluke. They took apart Prairie View, beat McNeese, and go toe-to-toe with Texas A&M. It is tough to come into Bowers and win, we have won 93% of our home games. There is a reason why because the crowd was amazing.”
Safety Adrian Contreras on the defense effort…
“Our main focus was to execute, we didn’t do a whole lot but our plan was to be the best that we could be at it and we got a lot of players who can do incredible things and we went out there and put it together.”
Running back Remus Bulmer on the production out of the backfield…
“It is fun. Sometimes you want to get out there and get a little more but every day we challenge each other to do this and just on the sideline. You can hear us giving each other energy and telling each other ‘come in come get you a touchdown’ or ‘Get you these runs.’ Whatever it may be to just get on the field is very competitive.”
Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe on the victory…
“It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been there before but it’s like what you said, everything is kind of in slow motion. Almost like what you see on a video game. But that’s just a credit to our offense and Coach Cramsey and what he’s done. I think people have really overlooked the job that our offensive line has done. You can’t get in that rhythm or that zone without those guys up front protecting you. And I’ll say it again, we have the best receiving core in the country so it’s fun to rely on not just one person but all of them. It’s up to all of us as a whole unit to be in the zone and I think it’s only going to get better.”