HUNTSVILLE - The Sam Houston State defense held a tough Nicholls State offense to just 249 yards and picked up a few key first downs in the final minutes to pull of a 16-13 victory on senior night at Bower Stadium.
For the Bearkats (5-4, 3-2 SLC), the victory over the 25th-ranked Colonels was the first win against a ranked opponent since the 2004 season when they defeated Eastern Washington in the quarterfinals of the I-AA playoffs.
Playing most of the game without quarterback Rhett Bomar who was lost for the season in the second quarter with a knee injury, sophomore running back Chris Poullard shouldered most of the load, running for 130 yards and the Kats only touchdown.
"I just knew with Rhett out of the game, more of it was going to come my way," Poullard said. "I just had to step it up and see if we could pull this thing off."
In addition to his ground game, Poullard was also the leading receiver,
catching seven passes for 68 yards, giving him 199 yards of total offense on the night. Poullard's touchdown run came in the first quarter on the opening drive of the ball game for the Kats.
Nicholls State took the opening kickoff and marched 57 yards to the SHSU 17-yard line before running back Cal Jones fumbled and Nolan Bucek recovered the loose ball. The Kats then marched 79 yards on nine plays with Poullard finishing it off with a 3-yard scoring run.
"I thought this was a very big win for us," head coach Todd Whitten said. "You just can't say enough about the way our guys fought and battled all game long. This is probably the biggest win for us since I got here."
A pair of Taylor Wilkins field goals in the second quarter put the Bearkats up 13-0 and they took a 13-3 lead in at the half.
The Colonels kicked a field goal midway through the third quarter to cut it to 13-6 and then tied the game with 14:31 left to play on a Joseph Tobias 1-yard run. The Bearkats went three-and-out and had to give the ball right back to the Colonels. Quarterback Vincent Montgomery was putting together a drive, moving the ball 31 yards to the Nicholls 43 yard-line when he was hit by Jerod Brown. Carlton Cobey fell on the loose ball setting up the SHSU offense in Colonel territory.
Hicks completed a pass for 15 yard to Chris Poullard to get the Kats down to the 23. Two plays later, the Colonels were hit with a personal foul giving the Kats the ball at the seven-yard line. Poullard carried the ball three times, but failed to get into the end zone and the Kats sent out Taylor Wilkins to give them the lead. Wilkins 18-yard attempt was good, despite being partially blocked by the Colonels, giving SHSU a 16-13 lead.
The defense then did it's job, keeping the Colonels from picking up a first
down and forcing them to punt the ball with 5:16 left to play. Brett Hicks
and the Bearkats never gave it back. On third-and-one from their own 27-yard line, Hicks completed a pass to fullback Matthew Powledge who rumbled 27 yards for a first down.
Poullard took over from there. He carried the ball six times for 20 yards,
including a 1-yard run on fourth-and-one to seal the victory.
The Bearkats will now head on the road for the final two games of the season taking on Southeastern Louisiana next Saturday in Hammond and then they close out the season Thursday, Nov. 15 at Texas State-San Marcos.