Quarterback Wyrick Smothers directed Central Arkansas on touchdown drives of 72 and 75 yards in the final five minutes as the Bears upset No. 3 ranked Sam Houston State Saturday afternoon at Estes Stadium.
SHSU had taken a 20-10 lead with 5:24 to play with drives for a touchdown and field goals after UCA tied the contest 10-10 late in the third quarter.
Smothers found Dominique Croom in the left corner of the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown for the winning score with 57 seconds remaining.
In the final minute, the Bearkats drove to the UCA 24 before the Bears intercepted a pass in the end zone on the contest’s final play.
Sam Houston dropped to 1-2 for the season while Central Arkansas upped its record to 3-1. The contest was the Southland Conference opener for both squads.
Following a loss to Baylor last week, the result marks the first time SHSU has lost two consecutive games since 2010. The Kats went 14-1 in 2011, reaching the NCAA Division I national championship game.
Smothers completed 24 of 41 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns. UCA rolled up 413 yards total offense while Sam Houston totaled 470.
The end of the contest erased another strong performance by Timothy Flanders and Richard Sincere. Flanders rushed 22 times for 125 yards including TD runs of 39 and 11 yards. Sincere rushed for 53 yards including two big runs to set up scores for the Bearkets.
The 100-yard performance by Flanders is the 17th 100-yard game of his career. The two scores move him up to No. 5 in Southland Conference career rushing touchdowns with 39.
Sam Houston scored on its opening drive of the game after a UCA punt. Miguel Antonio put the Kats up 3-0 with 8:21 to play in the first quarter after an 11-play 48-yard drive.
After an exchange of punts, SHSU took two plays to score its first touchdown. Brandon Willkerson rushed 33 yards to the UCA 39 on a reserve. Then Flanders took a pitch from Richard Sincere down the left sideline for a 39-yard score. SHSU led 10-0 with 1:41 to play in the opening quarter.
Sam Houston had another scoring opportunity early in the second quarter after an interception by J. T. Cleveland. But Antonio missed a 24-yard field goal attempt.
Wynrick Smothers put UCA on the board with a 30-yard scoring pass to Terence Bobo, cutting the lead to 10-7 with 10:05 to play in the half.
UCA had three chances to score its second TD late in the third quarter, but the Bearkat defense held and forced the Bears to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Eddie Camara with 2:03 remaining in the third to tie the game 10-10.
Sam Houston answered with an 11-play 80-yard drive to go back in front 17-10. Bell hit Chance Nelson for a 20-yard gain to the UCA 29 and Richard Sincere dashed 19 yards around left end to set up the score. Flanders picked up his second TD of the day with an 11-yard run.
The defense forced a punt and the Kat offense took 5:24 off the clock and added three more points with a 12-play 66-yard drive that ended with Antonio’s 26-yard field goal.
UCA bounced back with an eight-play 75-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard run up the middle by Smothers to cut the margin back to a field goal, 20-17, with 3:18 to go.