HUNTSVILLE – The Sam Houston State Bearkats highlighted their spring season on Thursday with the defense standing tall in a 51-44 win over the offense at Bowers Stadium.

The team took the field for approximately 90 minutes on Thursday in a number of scenarios, but it was the defense who allowed just one touchdown until the goal line session for the win. The Kats, who are replacing two-time Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe, utilized three quarterbacks throughout the evening with all three splitting reps.

“Like I told the team, we are a work in progress and we definitely made progress,” head coach K.C. Keeler said following the game. “It’s tough in spring ball when you are playing without your top three tight ends and trying to rotate your quarterbacks equally. Certain guys like Davion Davis are guys that don’t need a lot of reps so you try to hold him back, but I’ve really seen a pretty dramatic improvement with our defense.”

Transfer Mike Dare completed eight of his 14 pass attempts over the course of the scrimmage for 81 yards while Ty Brock completed nine passes and Eric Schmid six for 53 yards along with a rushing touchdown.

“We know we know we need to run the ball better, but it’s kind of unfair right now to look at it because we played tonight without three tight ends, which really changes who you are. I think with everything together we are going to have a pretty good offense. I thought Mike (Dare) did some really good things. You can see his arm strength and his presence, and the one thing he might have over the other two guys right now is his experience. But all three have played well. The biggest thing is to see our defense get better make some steps this spring.

The lone score of the primary session came from reigning Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year Davion Davis when he connected with Jaylen Harris for a 54-yard touchdown early in the game on a wide receiver pass. Redshirt freshman Quan Ardoin led the receivers with three catches for 30 yards while Caleb Jolivette and Coree Compton also pulled in three catches as well.

Defensively the Bearkat defense picked up four sacks, but it was a pick-six from Zyon McCollum late in the game that sealed the win for the defense. He would also add four tackles in the game, but Markel Perry led the orange team with six stops and a fumble recovery.

“I think the offensive line is coming along, but when you put in a brand-new offense in, there are going to be some growing pains. But all in all, I feel like it was a very good spring.”