Sam Houston - Battle of the Piney Woods - Game Notes

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This year’s Sam Houston vs. Stephen F. Austin meeting marks the 88th renewal of the “Battle of the Piney Woods.” The game now stands as the third oldest current college football rivalry in Texas. Baylor and Texas are meeting this year for the 99th time while SMU and TCU fought for the “Iron Skillet” for the 90th time this fall.

Saturday marks the fourth year for SHSU and SFA to meet at the home of the Houston Texans. In 2010, 24,685 fans packed the lower bowl at Reliant Stadium. In 2011, the crowd was 25,145. Last year, 26,185 attended the contest.


Since 2007, the winner of the “Battle of the Piney Woods” has earned a 21-pound solid cedar trophy that displays replica pistols from Texas’ frontier past. The logos from both universities are engraved on the handle of the pistols above name plates that will display the outcomes of the contest for the next two decades.

Saturday’s “Piney Woods” game will be featured on the Southland Television Network. The KUBE in Houston is the local area outlet. The telecast also will be available on ESPN3.

KSAM 101.7 FM will broadcast the contest. The broadcast also may be heard online at

Sam Houston State is one of only eight football programs to appear in consecutive NCAA Division I Football Championship Games.
The list of seven other universities reaching the finals in back-to-back seasons during the tournament’s 34-year history includes Eastern Kentucky, Georgia Southern, Youngstown State, Marshall, Montana, Appalachian State and North Dakota State.

Sam Houston State ranks in the top 10 in FCS national statistics in eight categories. The Bearkats are No. 1 in blocked kicks (6); No. 2 in fewest sacks allowed (4), passing yards per completion (15.78) and punt return average (18.88); No. 3 in rushing offense (278.9); No. 5 in net punting (39.78) and scoring offense (42.4) and No. 7 in pass efficiency (166.24).

The Bearkats stand No. 8 in the current Sports Network FCS poll and No. 9 in this week’s NCAA Coaches poll.

Sam Houston has been ranked among the FCS top 25 for 33 consecutive weeks. The team debuted in the national poll Sept. 9, 2011. During an 11-0 regular season in 2011, the Kats rose to No. 1 at the end of the regular season.

SHSU has ranked among the FCS top 10 for 29 consecutive polls. Sam Houston has finished each of the past two seasons No. 2 in the final rankings in both polls.

Sixteen times since both schools moved up to the FCS level as members of the Southland Conference, one or both teams have come into the “Battle of the Piney Woods” nationally ranked. A list of the results from those games is on page four of this release.


Walter Payton Award candidate Timothy Flanders has earned league offensive honors twice this season.

His first award came after scoring three touchdowns and rushing for 170 yards against Texas A&M. Flanders’ total was the most by any player against A&M in 42 games (since Colt McCoy of Texas in 2009).

Flanders was both Southland and FCS national player of the week after gaining 280 yards on 32 carries in the victory over then No. 2 Eastern Washington.

Linebacker Tanner Brock received the league’s weekly defensive honor after leading the team in tackles and posting two sacks in the victory over Texas Southern.

Cornerback De’Antrey Loche was Southland defensive player of the week after returning an interception 42 yards for a touchdown to put Sam Houston ahead to stay in the EWU victory.

Wide receiver / punt return specialist Torrance Williams was Southland special teams player of the week after the Lamar win. Williams returned five punts for 138 yards including a long of 53.
Linebacker Eric Fieilo was Southland defensive player-of-the-week after leading the Kats with 10 tackles in the Northwestern St. win.


All-America running back, Walter Payton Award candidate and two-time Southland “Player of the Year” Timothy Flanders ranks No. 11 in the FCS football in total rushing yards (871). He leads the Southland Conference in total yards, yards per game and rushing TDs.
The Midwest City, Okla., product is the first Southland Conference running back to gain more than 5,000 rushing yards. He holds 31 Sam Houston school records and nine Southland Conference marks. He has rushed 902 times for 5,185 yards and 62 touchdowns in his career. He has scored 66 touchdowns for 396 points overall. He stands No. 17 in FCS career rushing yards, No. 10 in FCS career rushing TDs and No. 11 in FCS career points.
Flanders has posted 29 100-yard rushing performances.


An amazing aspect of Flanders’ career marks is the large amount of games where he has given way to his backups with the contest’s outcome already in hand. Flanders has not had a carry in the final quarter in 15 of the Kats’ last 36 games. In his four-year career, he has sat for a total of 25 quarters, the equivalent more than six games.

When Flanders has played in the fourth quarter of close games, he has been very effective. His impressive final period performances in victories include wins over Montana (9 for 82 in 2011), Lamar (14 for 71 last week), New Mexico (9 for 67 in 2011), Stony Brook (10 for 60 in 2011) and Eastern Washington (10 for 69 in 2012).

In the Kats’ victory over EWU this season, Flanders carried 13 times for 82 yards including four first downs and a touchdown.


Brian Bell is Sam Houston’s all-time winningest quarterback, leading SHSU to 36 victories in 46 starts since 2010. He stands No. 3 in the FCS national rankings for yards per completion (16.96), No. 5 in pass efficiency (169.6), No. 6 in points responsible for (18.0) and No. 11 in touchdown passes (18).

The senior from China Spring is the program’s all-time leader in passing (7,496 yards), total offense (8,651 yards) and TD passes (70). He stands No. 10 in Southland career passing yards and No. 5 in league touchdown throws.

Bell is only the second quarterback in school history to gain 1,000 career yards rushing. The first was David Kubiak (1,528 in 1967-70). Bell now stands No. 31 in SHSU career rushing with 1,155 yards. He has 20 rushing TDs to his credit.


Richard Sincere, the senior wide receiver who also runs the “Wild Bearkat” formation and returns kicks, stands No. 5 in Sam Houston all-purpose yards with a total of 3,343. He also ranks No. 10 in SHSU career rushing (2,112) and No. 20 in Bearkat career receiving (1,075).

The Galveston Ball product joins Tony January as the only Bearkats to gain more than 1,000 career yards both rushing and receiving. From 1978 to 1982, January gained 2,376 rushing and 1,328 receiving.

Sincere has six rushes for more than 40 yards (including a long of 65 yards for a touchdown in the 2012 victory over McNeese). He has three touchdown catches of more than 60 yards (the longest, 77 yards from Brian Bell in the 2011 Lamar victory).


Torrance Williams leads both the Southland Conference and the FCS national statistics in punt returns with a 19.9 average. He also is ranked No. 8 nationally in receiving touchdowns (8).

Williams ranks No. 12 in SHSU career all-purpose yards (2,291) and No. 22 in career receiving (1,297 yards).


A Bearkat tradition established by head coach Willie Fritz when he was an assistant at Sam Houston in the early 1990s returned in 2010.

The SHSU “Block Party” produced six blocks in both 2011 and 2012. This year the Kats lead FCS football with six blocks in eight games in 2013. Eric Humphrey and James Delarosa each blocked a punt in the HBU victory. Andrew Weaver blocked a point after in the EWU win and a field goal in the Lamar victory. De’Antrey Loche blocked two field goal attempts in the Northwestern State win.

After Fritz started the “Block Party” in 1991, Sam Houston blocked 80 punts, field goals and extra points in the next 14 seasons.


Andrew Weaver was selected to the Associated Press FCS All-America third team in 2012. He was an All-Southland second team honoree. Weaver had two sacks at Montana State and one in the NCAA title game. In 2011, he returned an interception for 23 yards versus SFA. This season the Texas A&M transfer leads the Bearkats with five sacks.

Shelby Davis, Tristen Eche and De’Antrey Loche each have returned interceptions for scores this season. Davis and Eche scored in the Houston Baptist victory on plays of 48 and 32 yards, respectively. Loche brought back a interception 42 yards for a game-turning score against EWU.


Cornerback Bookie Sneed is the Bearkats’ lone returning starter in the secondary. Sneed picked off four interceptions last year and eight in his career. He is tied for eighth in career interceptions at SHSU.
He holds a school record with his 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter of the 2012 SFA victory. The play broke a mark that had stood since 1968.


Nine All-Southland Conference performers return from the 2012 squad including first team selections running back Timothy Flanders and wide receiver/wildkat back Richard Sincere. Second team all-conference Kats returning include quarterback Brian Bell, defensive linemen Gary Lorance and Andrew Weaver and defensive back Bookie Sneed. Receiving All-Southland honorable mention in 2012 were running back Keshawn Hill, offensive linemen Donald Jackson, defensive lineman Jarrett Brown and linebacker Jesse Beauchamp.