Sam Houston State Football Playoff Game Notes

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HUNTSVILLE, WALKER COUNTY SAM HOUSTON STATE UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL GAME NOTES
Bearkats vs. Southern Utah
NCAA Division I Football Playoffs Opening Round
Saturday 2 p.m. at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville

BEARKATS BACK IN THE NCAA PLAYOFFS

For the third year in a row, Sam Houston is in the NCAA Division I National Championship playoffs and starting the action with a home game. The Bearkats are 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’S FCS PLAYOFF RECORD

Sam Houston has earned FCS playoff berths six times (1986, 1991, 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2012). The Kats reached the playoff finals in 2011 and 2012, the semifinals in 2004, the quarterfinals in 2001 and the first round in 1986 and 1991.

FCS’S LONGEST CURRENT HOME WINNING STREAK

The Kats own a 21-game home winning streak at Bowers Stadium, the longest in school history and, currently, in the FCS. The streak started with a win over Texas State after losing to McNeese in 2010. Sam Houston’s 21-game streak now stands as the 12th longest in FCS history. Georgia Southern holds the record with 39 consecutive home wins from 1997 to 2001. Bowers Stadium opened in 1986. The Bearkats won their first 13 games in the facility and now hold a 102-42-1 record at Bowers. Sam Houston has posted unbeaten seasons at home in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2004, 2011 and 2012. Sam Houston is 6-0 at Bowers in NCAA Playoff action.

BEARKATS VERSUS THE BIG SKY

Sam Houston stands 12-8 against teams currently in the Big Sky Conference. The Bearkats are 8-2 against the Big Sky on the turf at Bowers Stadium. Each of the past three years, the Kats have posted wins over the Big Sky’s champion (over Montana and Montana State in 2011, versus each of the league’s tri-champions Cal Poly, Montana State and Eastern Washington on the playoff road to Frisco in 2012 and against EWU again on Sept. 28 when the Eagles were No. 2 nationally).

FIRST FOOTBALL MEETING FOR KATS & T-BIRDS

The Bearkats and the Thunderbirds are meeting for the first time in the two teams’ football histories. Southern Utah finished 5-3 and tied for fourth in the Big Sky Conference. Sam Houston tied for third in the Southland Conference with a 4-3 league mark after winning the league title in both 2011 and 2012. Both teams finished the season with 8-4 records.

SAM HOUSTON TOP 10 IN NINE FCS STAT CATEGORIES

Sam Houston State ranks in the top 10 in FCS national statistics in 8 categories including scoring and rushing offense.
No. 1 in fewest blocked kicks allowed..................................................... 1
No. 1 in fewest blocked punts allowed.................................................... 0
No. 8 in yards per completion................................................................... 14.95
No. 6 in scoring offense.............................................................................. 41.3
No. 7 in rushing offense.............................................................................. 255.7
No. 7 in blocked kicks.................................................................................. 6
No. 7 in net punting...................................................................................... 38.76
No. 10 in punt return defense..................................................................... 3.50

BEARKATS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS

The Bearkats stand No. 14 in both the Sports Network FCS and NCAA FCS Coaches polls. Sam Houston has been ranked among the FCS top 25 for 37 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. The last time SHSU has not been ranked in the FCS top 10 was on Oct. 3, 2011, when the Kats were No. 11. The following week, SHSU moved up to No. 10 to starting a string of 32 consecutive polls among the top 10. SHSU stood No. 2 in the final polls in 2011 and 2012.

SOUTHLAND PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Quarterback Brian Bell was named the Southland Offensive Player of the Week Nov. 4 after leading the Bearkats to a 56-49 victory over SFA. Bell completed 19 of 29 passes for a career-best 339 yards and four touchdowns (15, 4, 38 and 16 yards). He accounted for 383 total yards of offense in guiding the Bearkats to 557 total yards in the game. The award marked the seventh weekly honor this year for a Bearkat.

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 DeAntrey 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.

RUNNING BACK TIMOTHY FLANDERS

All-America running back, three-time Walter Payton Award finalist and two-time Southland “Player of the Year” Timothy Flanders is the first Southland Conference running back to gain more than 5,000 rushing yards and score more than 400 points.

Flanders holds 31 Sam Houston school records and nine Southland Conference marks. He ranks No. 10 in FCS all-time rushing (5,407 yards) and points (404) and No. 8 in FCS career rushing TDs (63). He has posted 29 100-yard rushing performances. With 1,172 yards rushing this season, he stands as the first Sam Houston running back to post three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. His performance have powered SHSU to 39-13 overall record. Flanders earned national honors as FCS offensive player of the week after rolling up 280 yards and two TDs in Sept. 28 victory over then No. 2 Eastern Washington.

QUARTERBACK BRIAN BELL

Brian Bell is Sam Houston’s all-time winningest quarterback, leading SHSU to 38 victories in 49 starts since 2010. The senior from China Spring is the program’s all-time leader in passing (8,464 yards), total offense (9,880 yards) and TD passes (82). He stands No. 9 in Southland career passing yards and No. 4 in league touchdown throws.

WILD BEARKAT RICHARD SINCERE

Richard Sincere, the senior wide receiver who also runs the “Wild Bearkat” formation and returns kicks, stands No. 4 in Sam Houston all-purpose yards with 3,786. He also ranks No. 8 in SHSU career rushing (2,223) and No. 16 in Bearkat career receiving (1,207).

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). Sincere has averaged 8.84 yards per play each time runs, catches a pass or returns a kick.

TORRANCE WILLIAMS TOPS IN SOUTHLAND & FCS

Torrance Williams leads the Southland Conference and stand No. 2 in FCS punt returns with a 15.9 average. He also is ranked No. 7 nationally in receiving touchdowns (12). He already has broken the SHSU season record for punt return yards and ranks No. 13 in SHSU career all-purpose yards (2,783) and No. 7 in career receiving (1,688 yards).

KESHAWN HILL IN KAT 1,000 YARD RUSHING CLUB

Junior running back and kick return specialist Keshawn Hill brings the number of Kats in 1,000-yard stat clubs on this year’s team to five. He has career totals of 1,226 yards rushing and 1,969 all-purpose yards.

CORNERBACK BOOKIE SNEED

Cornerback Bookie Sneed picked off his ninth career interception in the SFA victory. The senior ranks seventh in SHSU career interceptions. He holds a school record with his 92-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter of the 2012 SFA victory.

Dax Swanson set the SHSU school career record with 14 between 2009 and 2012.

PICK SIX

Five times this year, Bearkat defenders have returned interceptions for touchdowns. Michael Wade is the latest with a “pick six”, returning an interception 48 yards for a score in the regular season home finale against Nicholls State. DeAntrey Loche scored on a 42-yard game-turning interception in the victory over then No. 2 Eastern Washington and a 45-yard return versus SFA at Reliant that proved to be the game-winning tally. Shelby Davis and Tristen Eche scored in the Houston Baptist victory on plays of 48 and 32 yards, respectively.

LINEBACKERS FIEILO AND BROCK LEAD KAT DEFENSE

Seniors Eric Fieilo and Tanner Brock lead the Sam Houston defense with season totals of 91 tackles and 86, respectively. Fieilo is a nominee for the 2013 Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award after his return this year from a season ending injury in last year’s season opener. Brock has four tackles for 14 yards in losses this fall.

THE BLOCK PARTY

A Bearkat tradition established by 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 rank seventh in the FCS with six blocks.
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. DeAntrey 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.



 
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