ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Lobos scored 17 unanswered points in the second half and held on to pull out a 39-31 win over the Sam Houston State Bearkats in the 2019 season opener on Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium.
The Bearkats (0-1), playing their first FBS opponent since 2015, held an early lead in the third quarter after marching 75 yards on the opening drive for a touchdown; however, New Mexico (1-0) responded with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal of their own behind quarterback Sherrion Jones and never relinquished the lead despite the Kats having a chance to knot it up in the final minutes.
Sam Houston ran 95 plays and rolled up 558 yards of offense, leading in both first downs and time of possession, but managed just 57 yards on the ground in the opening three quarters before finishing with 115 for the game, and committed 12 penalties that aided a New Mexico effort which produced over 485 yards of offense on its own.
The Kats made it interesting in the game’s final minutes when Ty Brock led the Kats down the field for a touchdown and two-point conversion, cutting the game to a one-score affair with 3:01 to go. SHSU then recovered the onside kick and connected on a pass deep into Lobo territory before stalling and turning the ball over with 1:17 to go.
Brock and Eric Schmid split quarterback duties throughout the game with Schmid rushing for 17 yards and a score while also throwing for 185 yards and another touchdown. Brock finished with 258 yards in the air, and a score, connecting with Dee Bowens in the second quarter for a 65-yard touchdown to open the Bearkat scoring.
Bowens finished with 130 yards receiving on nine catches, while Nathan Stewart added 71 yards on six grabs and Chandler Harvin had 68 yards. On the ground, Kyran Jackson led the attack with 66 yards and Donovan Williams had 30 yards and a score.
Defensively, Will Lockett and Tristin McCollum each had eight tackles to lead SHSU, with Lockett delivering a pair of TFLs.
The Bearkat offense started slowly, before finally getting going in the second quarter. In the meantime, the SHSU defense did its part, holding New Mexico to a pair of long field goals in the opening quarter before the Lobos got into the end zone late in the period on a 43-yard run by Ahmari Davis gave them a 13-0 lead.
New Mexico added another field goal on the first play of the second quarter to go up 16-0 before the Kats finally answered when Ty Brock connected with a wide-open Dee Bowens for a 65-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 16-6. The Bearkat defense responded by forcing a quick New Mexico punt, and then Eric Schmid came on to lead the Kats on a 79-yard touchdown drive that ended in him diving into the end zone from four yards out.
Here's a look at the Kats' first score of the game, a career-long 65-yard reception by Dee Bowens from Ty Brock. #EatEmUpKats— Sam Houston State Football (@BearkatsFB) August 31, 2019
The teams then traded empty drives before Matt McRobert pinned the Lobos deep in their own territory with a 60-yard punt; however, UNM proceeded to go 89 yards on just seven plays to get back into the end zone and re-up the lead. Connor Crow responded for SHSU one drive later with a 46-yard field goal, sending the teams into the locker room with UNM holding a 22-16 lead.
Schmid would finish with 107 passing yards in the half, while Brock tossed 102 in helping the Kats to 248 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. The Lobos, however, put up 269 total yards of their own, 218 of which came through the air.
The Kats took the opening kickoff of the second half and went straight to work behind Schmid, who marched his offense 75 yards on just seven plays to give Sam Houston its first lead of the game. He connected with Brennon Tibbs twice on the drive for 38 total yards, but capped the drive with a 13-yard pass to Toneil Carter out of the backfield.
New Mexico would retake the lead later in the quarter on Andrew Shelley’s fourth field goal of the game, capping a 52-yard drive where the Bearkat defense once again held after the Lobos had an and-goal opportunity inside the 5-yard line.
The lead grew to 32-23 with a minute to play in the quarter when Sherrion Jones found paydirt from 10 yards out after the Kats turned the ball over on downs inside Lobo territory.
Sam Houston would not get into the end zone again until late in the half on a 4-yard run by Donovan Williams, capping an 86-yard drive that included a fourth-down conversion from Brock to Nathan Stewart. Brock then found Woody Brandom for the two-point conversion, making it a one-score game with just 3:01 to go.
Connor Crow then pounced on an onside kick, quickly giving the Bearkats the ball back at their own 46-yard line with plenty of time to go. Brock then connected with Brandom once again, this time for 32 yards down to the New Mexico 22-yard line; however, that was as close as the Kats would get to the end zone as the Lobos defense stiffened and put the Kats down for a loss on three of the next four plays.
The Bearkats will return to Bowers Stadium for the home opener, a White Out, on Saturday against Oklahoma Panhandle State. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN+.
- Dee Bowens’ 65-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the longest catch of his career, surpassing a 64-yard touchdown he had vs Southeastern Louisiana in 2018.
- Bowens finished with 105 yards receiving in the half and 130 for the game. It marked the fourth career 100-yard game for him after finishing with three in his last four games last year.
- Connor Crow’s 46-yard field goal was the first of his career and tied the longest field goal by a Bearkat since 2015.
- The loss evened up the all-time series between Sam Houston State and New Mexico with the Bearkats winning the only other meeting in 2011.
- Kyran Jackson’s 31-yard run in the fourth quarter was a career long for the junior and the longest run by a Bearkat since Corey Avery in 2017.
- The Kats finished with 539 yards of total offense. It is the first time the Kats have dropped a game when totaling at least 500 yards of offense since falling to Texas Tech despite 637 yards of offense in 2015.
Kats down 22-16 at New Mexico and will get the ball to open the second half.— Sam Houston State Football (@BearkatsFB) September 1, 2019
Here's a quick look at the first half highlights. #EatEmUpKats