Kats, Cards set for Saturday

By  | 

Saturday, Oct. 21 • Huntsville, Texas • 3:00 p.m. • Bowers Stadium (12,593)
No. 7 Sam Houston State (5-1, 3-1 SLC) vs Lamar (1-5, 0-4 SLC)
Live Stats • ESPN3 • @BearkatsFB on Twitter • Complete SHSU Game Notes

After putting together a late game-winning drive last week against Northwestern State, the No. 7 Sam Houston State Bearkats will tee it up once again on their home field on Saturday against Lamar in a game presented by The Huntsville Item.

The game headlines homecoming weekend at Sam Houston, but also will provide the Kats a chance to extend its FCS-best home win streak to 16 games against the team who last handed them a loss at Bowers Stadium.

Coach K.C. Keeler’s team trailed for nearly the entire game against Northwestern State, but constructed a 6-play, 96-yard drive that ended with 1:04 left in the game to cap a comeback that erased a 17-point deficit in the first half. The Kats racked up 616 yards of total offense, including 509 through the air to hold off the Demons and remain just a game back of Central Arkansas for first place in the Southland Conference.

Jeremiah Briscoe will come into Saturday’s game against the Cardinals needing just 26 yards passing to move past Brian Bell’s career passing yardage mark and will have plenty of help from a receiving corps that is headlined by Nathan Stewart and Davion Davis. The pair of wide receivers has combined for 1,436 yards this season, the most of any receiving duo in the FCS this season.

They were at their best on Saturday with Davis hauling in eight catches for 139 yards and a career-best four touchdowns, while Stewart brought in eight passes for 247 yards to give him each of the top two spots in the Bearkat record book for single-game receiving yards.

On the defensive side the Bearkats have been bolstered by the return of P.J. Hall in the last four games and have held its opponents to less than 20 percent conversions on third down in that span. Hall’s return has also ignited increased production from the rest of the defense, including Chris Stewart who has picked up five sacks in the past two games.

Meanwhile, Lamar is off to a tough 1-5 start to its season under first-year head coach Mike Schultz, falling to 0-4 in Southland play after a 33-24 loss at UIW on Saturday in San Antonio. Still, the Cardinals boast the top pass defense in the league through six games, allowing just 177.0 yards through the air this year. That will provide a stiff test against a Bearkat passing attack that leads the league and ranks second in the nation with 366.8 yards per game.

Quarterback Darrel Colbert Jr. has accounted for 13 of the team’s 22 offensive touchdowns this season, with five coming on the ground as part of a Cardinal rushing game that is putting up 176.8 yards per contest. Kenrdick King and Zae Giles are also two of the primary weapons the Cardinals will feature on offense as the team's top running back and wide receiver.

Saturday’s game will be aired live on ESPN3 with Tom Franklin on play-by-play, John Harris providing color analysis and Megan Trammell on the sidelines. Fans can also listen live on KSAM 101.7 FM with Kooter Roberson and E.P. Garth in the booth, and Brian Adams patrolling the sidelines.

Live stats are available to fans, in addition to live updates being provided by following @BearkatsFB on Twitter.

Sam Houston holds a 27-10-1 all-time record against the Cardinals, but is 7-1 since Lamar brought back its program for the 2010 season. The lone loss since 2010 came the last time Lamar came to Bowers Stadium when they handed the Kats a 49-46 defeat in what is still the last time Sam Houston lost on its home field. That was just the second time the Cardinals have ever left Huntsville with a win in 17 tries. In all, Sam Houston has won 11 of the last 13 meetings dating back to 1984.

- K.C. Keeler would win his 214th career game. He is currently 18th all-time among FCS head coaches, one win behind Wofford’s Mike Ayers. One spot ahead of Ayers on the all-time list is former SHSU head coach Ron Randleman, who sits 16th with 218 career wins.

- Sam would extend its win streak at Bowers Stadium to 16 games, setting a new mark for the second longest home win streak in school history. The current 15-game streak dates back to a 49-46 loss to Lamar on Sept. 19, 2015, a streak that is the longest current such streak in the FCS. Since the start of 2011, the Kats have been nearly perfect on the Bowers Stadium turf, having won 42 of their last 44 games in front of their home crowd overall. The current school record for consecutive home victories is 23 in a row that stretched from 2010 to 2014.

- Sam Houston would win its 74th game since the beginning of the 2011 season. The Kats and North Dakota State are the only two teams in the FCS with 70 victories since the beginning of the 2011 campaign.

- The Kats would move to 7-1 against the Cardinals since Lamar brought back its football team for the 2010 season. The lone loss in that streak is Lamar’s 49-46 win in Huntsville in 2015, the last time the Bearkats lost on their home field.

- Jeremiah Briscoe set new career highs with 509 yards and 33 completions against the Demons, the second 500-yard passing game of his career. He is now the only quarterback in school history with multiple 500-yard games to his credit and he now needs just 26 more yards passing to surpass Brian Bell’s SHSU career mark of 8,655 yards.

- Davion Davis hauled in eight catches for 139 yards and four touchdowns in the win, tying Matt Dominguez (1999) and Yedidiah Louis (2016) for the most in a single game in Bearkat history. His big day earned him Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors for the first time and he is just one of three players in the nation this season to have a game with 4 touchdown grabs. His total also pushed him over the 2,000-yard mark for his career, making him just the seventh receiver in Bearkat history to go over that mark for a career.

- The win marked the first time the Bearkats had trailed entering a fourth quarter at home and won since Oct. 31, 2009 against Northwestern State. That night the Kats trailed the Demons 30-27 before Blake Joseph hit Jason Madkins for the game-winning score with just 5:37 to play in the game for what was a 34-30 victory.

- Sam Houston finished with 616 yards of total offense against the Demons, marking the 13th time in 50 games under head coach K.C. Keeler that the Bearkat offense has finished with 600+ yards. The 509 yards of passing was the third most in a single game in Bearkat history.

- In all the Kats ran 81 plays to get their 616 yards, but the bulk of that offense came in chunks for the Bearkats with seven plays from scrimmage that went for 25+ yards, four of which were connections between Briscoe and Stewart. Of Sam Houston’s 616 yards of offense, 318 yards came on those seven snaps. It was the most plays of 25+ yards since the Kats had a dozen in the opener against Richmond with Stewart having a team-best 16 explosive plays in 2017, four of which have gone for scores.

- Davion Davis was not the only Bearkat receiver to have a huge game on Saturday. Sophomore Nathan Stewart turned in a huge game as well with eight catches for 247 yards. He now owns the top two single-game receiving marks at Sam Houston with his performance against the Demons ranking second only to his Southland-record 268 receiving yards against McNeese last season. The 247 yards is the third most by a player at the FCS level this year, topped only by Jaelon Acklin’s (Western Illinois) 343 yards against South Dakota and Bob Pugh’s (Indiana State) 260 against Liberty.

- Corey Avery’s 78 yards on the ground gave him 2,699 yards for his career and moved him into sole possession of second place all-time at SHSU. He now trails only Timothy Flanders’ 5,644 yards which is both the most in Sam Houston and Southland Conference history.

- The Bearkat defense has gotten a big boost from Chris Stewart of late, including Saturday against the Demons. The junior transfer had three sacks and 2.5 sacks against Northwestern State and in his last two games has five sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. He had just one sack in the first four games of the year for the Kats.

- Hunter Brown led the Kats with 11 tackles on the night, setting a new career high. He currently ranks second on the team in total tackles with 37 with 25 coming in the last three games.

- Sam Houston’s defense may have allowed its most yards since the opener vs Richmond, but still continued its prowess of efficiency on third down. The Kats allowed the Demons to convert just 3 of 17 third downs, marking the third time in the last 4 games an opponent has been below 20 percent on third-down conversions. In the season’s first two games opponents were 16/36 (.444) on third downs, but are just 12/61 (.196) in the last four games.