Sam Houston State will face Eastern Washington at 3 p.m. (Central time) Saturday, Dec. 15, at Roos Field in Cheny, Washington, in the NCAA Division I Football Championships semifinals.
The game will be nationally televised by ESPNU.
Eagles quarterback Kyle Padron passed for 358 yards and six touchdowns to lead Eastern Washington to a 51-35 victory over Illinois State Saturday evening in the NCAA quarterfinals.
Sam Houston defeated Montana State 34-16 Friday night in Bozeman to earn its semifinal berth.
Eastern Washington stood No. 4 in the final regular season FCS rankings and is the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Division I Football Championships.
The game marks Sam Houston’s third appearance in the semifinals and the second year in a row the Bearkats have reached the Championships final four.
Ranked No. 5 in the final regular season rankings and unseeded in the playoffs, Sam Houston defeated Cal Poly 18-16 in Huntsville in the second round. Last year, Sam Houston punched its ticket for the NCAA Division I championship finals at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco with a 31-28 victory over Montana in the semifinals in Huntsville.
Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State’s only previous football meeting came in the NCAA quarterfinals in 2004, a contest voted by Bearkat football fans as SHSU’s “Game of the Decade” in a poll by www.gobearkats.com in 2009.
Down 20 points with 14 minutes to play on Dec. 4, 2004, in Cheney, quarterback Dustin Long led a Kat rally that ended with the winning touchdown and PAT on the final play of the game. Jason Mathenia caught a school record 13 passes for 226 yards and Long threw for 478 yards and three touchdowns for a 35-34 SHSU victory over the No. 14 ranked Eagles.
Up 35-14 with 14:59 left, Eastern Washington had a chance to put the game away with a field goal with less than a minute to play. Vincent Cartwright, a 6-5 receiver on his first special teams play of the season, blocked the punt.
Long took the Bearkats 43 yards in 43 seconds, hitting Mathenia for gains of 12, 19 and 16 yards to move the ball to the EWU seven with two seconds to play. Mathenia caught the tying TD pass on a slant five yards deep in the end zone and Lance Garner kicked the winning PAT with no time left on the clock.
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