Sam Houston loses Conference USA opener to Jacksonville State in overtime 35-28
HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Jacksonville State scored the tying touchdown and two-point conversion with 13 seconds left in regulation then took only two plays to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime to hand Sam Houston a 35-28 loss at Bowers Stadium in the Conference USA opener on Thursday.
It was the first time since Oct. 12, 2019 against Lamar the Bearkats went to overtime. The Cardinals came away with a 20-17 victory in Huntsville. Quarterback Keegan Shoemaker threw for a season-high 284 yards and two touchdowns,
The offense got off to a sluggish start, but once the Bearkats got rolling they put some points on the board in a hurry. The Gamecocks struck first when Malik Jackson ripped off a 26-yard touchdown run with just under 10 minutes left in the first quarter.
Sam Houston didn’t take long to answer. On the ensuing drive, Shoemaker connected with Gentry for a 56-yard touchdown pass, the Bearkats’ longest play of the season. The defense continued to shutdown Jax State, and the offense provided the backup. Shoemaker hit Smith for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:37 to go in the first quarter following Sam Houston’s first takeaway of the season, an interception by Da’Marcus Crosby II.
Pannell made it 21-7 with a three-yard scoring run at the 10:20 mark of the second. The Gamecocks answered with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Logan Smothers to Michael Pettway in the third quarter.
An interception set up Jax State’s other score, a 16-yard run by Smothers, but kicker Alen Karajic hit the left upright on the PAT to keep the Kats in front 21-20. Akeem “Meatball” Smith appeared to help Sam Houston put the game on ice when he forced a fumble on a strip sack to give the Kats the ball at JSU 20-yard line.
A few plays later Pannell punched it in from a yard out to make it 28-20 with 1:11 left in the game.
Jax State quickly drove down the field to tie the game with 13 seconds remaining on a 28-yard touchdown pass by Smothers who also threw for the two-point conversion.
The Bearkats (0-4) will look to rebound next Thursday as they travel to Lynchburg, Virginia, to take on Liberty.
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