Kats open home stretch vs Demons

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Saturday, Nov. 16 • Huntsville • 12:05 p.m. CT • Bowers Stadium
Sam Houston State (6-4, 5-2 Southland) vs Northwestern State (2-8, 2-5 Southland)
Live Stats • ESPN+ • KSAM 101.7 FM
@BearkatsFB on Twitter • SHSU Game Notes • NSU Game Notes

The 2019 regular season is quickly coming to a close, but a league title is in sight for the Sam Houston State Bearkats as they host the Northwestern State Demons on Saturday afternoon at Bowers Stadium.

The game is set for a noon kickoff and will be aired on ESPN+. Randy McIlvoy will be on the call with Shea Walker providing analysis. It can also be heard locally on KSAM 101.7 FM with Rob Hipp and Brian Adams in the booth and Dave Fanucchi on the sidelines.

Fans are also encouraged to follow @BearkatsFB and @BearkatSports on Twitter and Instagram for updates and behind-the-scenes looks throughout the weekend and the 2019 season.

The Texas Department of Transportation will close Interstate 45 completely at the New Waverly exit/FM 1375 beginning at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 15 and ending at 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 17.

Both the northbound and southbound lanes will be closed due to construction.

All interstate traffic will be diverted to frontage roads to access I-45 at the next available entrance ramps.


- The Kats have 4 losses on their ledger, but all have been within 1 score of its opponent. Of those losses, SHSU has had the lead in the fourth quarter or overtime of 3 of those games.

- Running back Donovan Williams has rushed for 477 yards over the Kats’ last 5 games and eyeing a possible 1,000-yard season on the ground. Should he reach the mark, it would be the 13th 1,000-yard rushing season in program history. The Kats did not have a 1,000-yard rusher last year, but has not been without 1,000-yard rusher in consecutive seasons since the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.

- The Kats’ defensive dominance in 2019 has been a team effort, but freshman defensive lineman Jevon Leon has begun to stand out. The Alief Hastings HS product currently leads the team with 12.0 TFLs and 6.5 sacks, both marks that are the most among all freshmen in the FCS this season.

- In the win over ACU, the Kats welcomed back quarterback Eric Schmid after the redshirt sophomore had missed the past 4 games with a hand injury suffered in the game at McNeese. He responded well to his first game action in a month, completing 16 passes for 260 yards and a score.

- The Kats 17-0 win over No. 9 Nicholls marked the seventh straight win for SHSU at home over a top-10 ranked team. Their last home loss to a top-10 ranked team was in 2002 when they fell, 47-10, to No. 2 McNeese.

- Sam Houston enters Saturday leading the FCS in total TFLs (114), TFLs per game (11.4) and opponent’s third-down conversion percentage (45 for 168; 26.8 percent).

- The Kats defense also ranks third in the FCS and leading the Southland in rushing defense (74.3 ypg), 16th in the FCS in total defense (319.1 ypg) and third in sacks (3.70 pg).

- The Kats’ defense has been a true team effort as no player ranks in the top 25 in the entire SLC in total tackles. Senior safety Will Lockett (5.8 tpg), and senior linebackers Hunter (5.3 tpg) and Royce See (5.0 tpg) are the only players to average at least 5.0 tackles per game.

- Additionally, 21 players have at least 1.0 TFL on the year and 12 have had a hand in at least 1 sack.

- As a team the Kats are first in the FCS with an average of 11.4 TFLs per game after racking up 15.0 at ACU on Saturday. They have totaled 114 TFLs this year and are averaging 2.6 TFLs per game more than anyone else in the SLC. Oddly enough, 4 of the top 10 teams in the FCS in TFLs hail from the SLC.

- The shutout vs Nicholls was the second time this year the Kats have put a goose egg on the board, the other being in the home opener vs Oklahoma Panhandle State. The 2019 season the first time since 1966 that the Kats have shut out multiple opponents in the same season. Those games were a 0-0 tie with Howard Payne and a 10-0 win at Texas A&I.

- Sam Houston State has 98 wins in the 2010s decade, which is second only to North Dakota State’s 131 wins in the FCS ranks. Eastern Washington (96) and Jacksonville State (91) are the next 2 on the list.

- Should the Kat nab 2 more victories this season, it would give them 100 wins for the 2010s decade, joining Mount Union (136), North Dakota State (131), Alabama (121), Wisconsin-Whitewater (120), Northwest Missouri State (116), Mary Hardin-Baylor (110), Clemson (113), Minnesota State-Mankato (107), CSU-Pueblo (106), Minnesota-Duluth (106), Oklahoma (105), Boise State (103), Ohio State (101) as the only teams in NCAA college football.

- If the Kats achieve that 100-win mark for the decade they would join NDSU (131 in 2010s), Montana (119 in 2000s), Youngstown State (103 in 1990s), Appalachian State (101 in 2000s) and Marshall (114 in 1990s) as FCS teams to have reached that mark and averaged 10.0 wins for a specific decade.

- Sam Houston State entered 2019 having posted a winning season in each of the past 9 years, not having a sub-.500 season since the 2009 team went 5-6. The streak is the longest in school history, with the next most being 5 years in a row from 1952-56 under Paul Pierce. With 1 more win the Kats would secure their seventh straight winning season.

- Currently, Jacksonville State holds the most consecutive years with a winning season in all of the FCS, entering 2019 with 16 straight (last losing season in 2002), while Eastern Washington has 12 (last losing season in 2006) and North Dakota State also has 9 (last losing season in 2009).

- Prior to the 2018 season, the Kats had only had 4 different players throw a touchdown pass in a single season once in its history, which was 1975 when Guido Merkens (4 TD), Steve Albritton (1), Mike Havard (1) and James Oliphant (1) did so. But the Kats repeated that feat in 2018 when Ty Brock, Mike Dare, Eric Schmid and Ryan Humphries all threw for scores and have already done so this year as Brock, Schmid, Humphries and Noah Smith have all thrown for scores.

- Nathan Stewart hauled in 2 grabs for 28 yards vs Central Arkansas and now has 4,494 receiving yards for his career, which places him sixth all-time in receiving yards at the FCS level. Next on the list is New Hampshire’s David Ball who finished with 4,655 receiving yards from 2003-06.

- Stewart is 1 of just 4 players in FCS history to reach 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Should he reach 1,000 receiving yards again in 2019 he would join Terrell Hudgins (Elon) and Cooper Kupp (Eastern Washington) as the only players in FCS history to do so in 4 straight years. He needs just 221 more yards in 2019 to reach the mark, an average of 110.5 yards per game for the final 2 games of the regular season.

- Stewart reached a pair of milestones in the win over UIW when he caught 9 passes for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was the 17th 100-yard receiving game of his career and surged him past former teammate Yedidiah Louis for the SLC’s all-time record in career receiving yards. He is also the first ever SLC player and the 20th in FCS history to surpass 4,000 yards receiving for his career.


- K.C. Keeler would win his 233rd career game. He is currently in sole possession of 14th all-time among FCS head coaches. He would tie Joe Taylor and Chris Ault, who are tied for 12th with 233 career wins among coaches who spent at least 10 years at FCS schools. Keeler’s 232 victories are the second most among active coaches in the FCS behind only Al Bagnoli of Columbia who has 261.

- Keeler would win his 59th game as head coach of the Bearkats and would break a tie with former Lamar head coach Vernon Glass for sole possession of seventh all-time among Southland Conference coaches. The win at McNeese moved him into sole possession of third place in coaching wins all-time at SHSU, breaking a tie with former SHSU head coach J.W. Jones.

- The Kats would secure a winning season for the seventh straight season, which is the most in program history.


- Ife Adeyi broke out for career highs with 8 catches for 197 yards and a pair of scores against the Wildcats. It is the second most receiving yards in a single game by a freshman in all of the FCS this season, second only to Abdul-Fatai Ibrahim of Alabama A&M who had 203 yards receiving against Jackson State on Saturday as well.

- The Kats had allowed 152 yards of total offense to the Wildcats midway through the second quarter before Will Lockett’s interception turned the game around. Following that interception, ACU had just 127 total yards for the rest of the game with 54 of those yards coming on the game’s final drive.

- ACU put up 10 points on the Kats in the opening quarter, getting a field goal and a touchdown. Those were the first points allowed by the Bearkat defense in the first half of a game since allowing 14 second-quarter points to SFA in the Battle of the Piney Woods.

- The Kats’ first score of the game came on a 36-yard freshman-to-freshman connection by Noah Smith to Adeyi in the second quarter. It was the second time that pair had hooked up for a touchdown this season after also getting together on a 32-yard touchdwn pass vs SFA. In fact, Smith is one of 3 Bearkat passers he has caught TDs from this year including Eric Schmid and Ryan Humphries.

- The Kats also did a good job of protecting the football, winning the turnover battle 3-1 with just losing one fumble. It marked the third consecutive game that the Kats went without throwing an interception with the last pick coming when Brock was picked off at the end of the third OT to end the game vs Lamar. It is the first time since the 2016 season that the Kats have gone 3 consecutive games without throwing at least one interception.

- With 15.0 more TFLs, the Kats just continued to add to their total for the year. It marked the sixth time this year the Kats have reached double digits in tackles for loss, which is the first time since 2014 that has happened.


- The Bearkat defense allowed 278 yards to the Demon offense in the first half, but the second half was a different story. The Kats buckled down in the final 2 quarters and allowed just 154 yards to the Demons, with 70 coming on the final drive with SHSU already ahead by 2 touchdowns.

- The victory was the fourth straight for SHSU over Northwestern State in the all-time series, marking the first time the Kats have ever beaten the Demons 4 straight times in a series that dates back to 1929. It also gave the Kats a 21-20 lead in the all-time series, as well as marked the first time in series history that the Kats had won in back-to-back trips to Natchitoches after also winning in 2016.

- Kyran Jackson was named the SLC Offensive Player of the Week after going for 152 yards and a score on the ground, in addition to 116 yards receiving. It made him the first Bearkat in program history to have 100+ rushing yards and 100+ receiving yards in a single game, and the first SLC player to do so since McNeese’s Toddrick Pendland achieved the feat in the Cowboys’ road upset over then No. 2 Appalachian State in 2009.

- Davion Davis hauled in 4 touchdown grabs form Ty Brock in the game, tying his single-game career high of 4 touchdowns he had set one year earlier against the Demons in Huntsville. Davis had 66 yards receiving in the game and went over 3,000 receiving yards for his career that night. One week later vs Lamar he would set the Southland Conference record for career touchdown catches, which still stands today.

- The win was K.C. Keeler’s 50th as head coach of the Bearkats, which made him just the fifth SHSU coach to achieve 50 wins.