Bearkats derail #9 Nicholls 17-0
Sam Houston State’s offense fed off another spectacular outing by the defense to spark a 17-0 upset over No. 9 Nicholls in Southland Conference action Saturday at Bowers Stadium.
The Bearkats (5-3 overall, 4-1 in SLC) stopped the Colonels in their tracks, limiting Nicholls to 271 yards of total offense. Sam Houston State registered two fourth down stops, had three sacks, seven tackles for a loss and forced three turnovers.
The victory marked the Bearkats’ seventh straight win over a top-10 ranked team at Bowers Stadium dating back to 2004. The last time Sam Houston State lost to a team ranked in the top 10 was 47-10 setback to No. 2 McNeese in 2002.
After scoring 10 points in the first half, the Bearkats put the finishing touches on the victory at the end of the third quarter when the defense came through with one of its numerous clutch plays on the day. Nicholls quarterback Chase Fourcade was trying to avoid a sack when he rolled to the left and fired a pass downfield that was intercepted by junior defensive back Ka’Shon Murray near midfield.
Sam Houston State dug into its bag of tricks and used a double reverse screen pass from backup quarterback Ryan Humphries to freshman wide receiver Ife Adeyi, who fought through a host of Nicholls defenders to find the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown to make it 17-0.
That was more than enough for the Bearkat defense, which has not allowed an offense to score in regulation at home since Houston Baptist in a 45-6 victory on Sept. 21, a stretch of eight quarters.
Senior linebackers Hunter Brown and Royce See led Sam Houston State with 10 tackles apiece. Brown recovered a fumble and See also had one and a half sacks and two tackles for a loss.
Humphries finished with 39 yards rushing and was 5 of 6 passing for 75 yards and a touchdown. Starting quarterback Ty Brock was 6 for 13 passing for 116 yards and a score, while senior tight end Woody Brandom had five catches for a game-high 90 yards.
The Bearkats took the early lead behind the legs of Humphries and running back Donovan Williams who combined for 28 yards on the ground to spark an 80-yard scoring drive aided by two 15-yard penalties. Brock capped it with a 15-yard touchdown pass to junior wideout Brennon Tibbs midway through the first quarter.
Brandom set up the next scoring drive with an impressive catch and run right at the end of the first quarter. He hauled in a pass from Brock and rumbled over several Colonel defenders to break away for a 64-yard gain to the SHSU 24.
A holding penalty stalled the drive, but junior Hunter Pinegar split the uprights on a 40-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at the 13:30 mark.
Sam Houston State missed an opportunity to add to its lead midway through the second quarter when junior defensive back Zyon McCollum laid a hard hit on Nicholls wide receiver Dontrell Taylor that forced a fumble recovered by Brown.
The Bearkats couldn’t move the ball and had to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right.
The Colonels took advantage of the miscue and drove right down the field highlighted by a 34-yard pass play from Fourcade to senior wideout Dion Ray. The Bearkats forced a fourth and one from their own 26 and tackled running back Julien Gums for a one-yard loss to end the threat.
Sam Houston State missed out on another scoring chance in the final minutes of the half after a 26-yard reception by Brandom, but the drive ended in a missed 47-yard field goal.
The Colonels had a chance to get on the board in the third quarter thanks to a 43-yard pass from Fourcade to wide receiver KJ Franklin on fourth and 16 from their own 6. Two pass interference penalties helped pushed the ball inside the SHSU 20, but the Bearkats held and forced a 33-yard field goal attempt that missed wide right.
Sam Houston State travels to Central Arkansas next for a matchup with the Bears on Oct. 26.