HUNTSVILLE – The Bearkats hit the ground running with an explosive first half and never looked back on the way to a 45-6 victory over Incarnate Word in the Southland Conference opener Saturday at Bowers Stadium.
Senior wide receiver Nathan Stewart set a new Southland Conference record for career receiving yards at 4,010 by snatching nine receptions for 187 yards and three touchdowns. He capped the Bearkats’ impressive first half with a 32-yard touchdown grab with less than a minute to go to give Sam Houston State (2-2 overall, 1-0 in SLC) a commanding 31-0 lead at the break.
Here is a look at the last play of the first quarter!— Sam Houston State Football (@BearkatsFB) September 21, 2019
Nathan Stewart gets away from two UIW defenders to score his first TD of the season! #EatEmUpKats
The record was set when Stewart reeled in a 44-yard pass in the second quarter. The reception was also the 200th of his career, making him the fourth player in Sam Houston State history to hit that milestone and ninth in the Southland Conference.
The league’s career-receiving record was previously held by former Sam Houston State standout Yedidiah Louis (3,942).
Nathan Stewart is going OFF tonight! He finds himself in the end zone for the 3rd time tonight and the Kats lead 31-0! #EatEmUpKats— Sam Houston State Football (@BearkatsFB) September 22, 2019
Sophomore quarterback Eric Schmid threw for 531 yards on 29 of 44 passing and five scores. His single-game passing total now stands as second all-time in school history behind Dustin Long who set the record with 577 against McNeese in 2004.
Sophomore wide receiver Dee Bowens and freshman Ife Adeyi also topped the 100-yard receiving mark and caught touchdown passes. Bowens finished with five catches for 108 yards, and Adeyi added 119 yards on six receptions.
Sam Houston State’s defense shut down the Cardinals who came into the game averaging 35 points per contest. UIW (1-2, 0-1) did not score until there were less than three minutes left in the game.
The Bearkats wasted no time jumping out to a 7-0 lead, scoring on their first play from scrimmage.
Schmid escaped out of a potential sack around the UIW 36-yard line and found Bowens deep downfield. Bowens caught the pass in stride and raced to the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown, his second 60-plus yard scoring reception of the season.
The Bearkat defense took over from there.
The Cardinals marched into Sam Houston State territory on their first two drives of the game. Both times, Sam Houston State’s defense made a stand on fourth down to end the threats.
The Bearkats also forced a punt on UIW’s third possession with 3:21 left in the first quarter after Sam Houston State’s second drive ended on a turnover on downs at the Cardinal 31.
The Bearkat offense once again backed the impressive defensive stand to go up 14-0 with a clutch play on fourth and one from the UIW 49-yard line.
Schmid took the snap and rolled out of the pocket to the left. He hit Stewart down the sideline and Stewart stiff-armed the defensive back then jetted to the end zone.
The Cardinals had a chance to get on the board with 10:26 to go in the second quarter thanks to a highlight-reel catch by senior wide receiver Kam Williams who hauled in a pass that he initially dropped but snagged on a ricochet off his own heel for a 54-yard gain. The Bearkats defense held after that and forced a 43-yard field goal that missed wide right.
Sam Houston State marched right back down the field following the miss. Schmid hit Bowens for a 20-yard pass then found junior running back Kyran Jackson for 30 more to the UIW 20.
Schmid completed his fourth straight pass attempt of the drive when he connected with Stewart in the front left corner of the end zone to put the Bearkats up 21-0 at the nine-minute mark.
Stewart’s record-breaking reception came with under six minutes to go in the second half, which set up a 22-yard field goal by sophomore Conner Crow to make it 24-0.
The Cardinals had another chance to score in the third quarter after intercepting a Schmid pass. UIW drove down to the SHSU 3, but McCollum forced a fumble and Perry recovered it for a touchback.
On the next play, Schmid hooked up with Adeyi for an 80-yard touchdown to push the lead to 38-0.
The final score came on a 1-yard run by sophomore running back Donovan Williams at the 11:29 mark of the fourth quarter.