HUNTSVILLE, Texas – A balanced offensive attack of a running game coupled with a passing game for sixth-ranked Sam Houston State kept the McNeese defense off balance for much of the second and third quarters as the Bearkats were able to pull away for a 45-10 win in Southland Conference football action on Saturday night.
The loss was the second straight suffered by the Cowboys (4-3, 1-3 SLC) while the Bearkats won for the fourth consecutive time and improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league.
A running attack spearheaded by the combination of Tim Flanders and Richard Sincere charged the Bearkats to 336 rushing yards and 523 total. Sincere led the way with 132 yards on 12 carries and two scores while Flanders added 93 yards on 17 carries and a td.
“They did a really good job of running the ball,” said McNeese coach Matt Viator. “At times I thought we looked good but we had a hard time of getting them off the field on third downs.”
After the two teams traded possessions to start the game, McNeese jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Cody Stroud hit Kelvin Bennett on a 32-yard strike with 9:39 to play in the quarter.
Of McNeese's 192 total offensive yards, 119 came in the first quarter.
“We just didn't execute well enough offensively to win,” said Viator. “We didn't change anything we did offensively we just kept getting behind the chains. But they did make a good adjustment on the back after we were doing a good job of moving it.”
SHSU tied things with 56 seconds remaining in the quarter when Brian Bell connected with Chance Nelson on a 14-yard pass. Josh Lewis' 44-yard field goal with 9:47 to play in the second quarter gave McNeese a 10-7 lead before Sam Houston rolled off 24 straight points to put things out of reach in the third quarter.
The second and third quarters doomed the Cowboys. The two quarters combined saw the McNeese offense manage just five first downs, 33 rushing yards, 32 passing yards and 51 total yards.
Sincere scored on a 44-yard run at the 7:28 mark of the second quarter to give the Bearkats a 14-10 lead and Flanders ran it in from 12 yards out with 2:12 to play to make it 21-10 at the half.
SHSU took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove down for a touchdown and a 28-10 lead, then on the ensuing kickoff, McNeese's Deonte Spencer fumbled the return and Sam turned it into three points after a 22-yard field goal by Miguel Antonio to make it 31-10 late in the third quarter.
Sincere then closed the door in the game with a 65-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to make it 38-10.
Chris Grett topped off Sam's 38-point run with a 7-yard scamper with 3:22 to play in the game.
Marcust Wiltz led the Cowboys' rushing attack with 33 yards on five carries while Stroud completed 10 of 26 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown.
The Cowboys, who are still fighting for an at-large playoff spot, will be back home next Saturday when they host Stephen F. Austin for homecoming and a game that will be televised by Southland TV.
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