Kats set to stare down No. 9 Nicholls

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HUNTSVILLE – Saturday, Oct. 19 • Huntsville • 2:05 p.m. CT • Bowers Stadium (12,975)
Sam Houston State (4-3, 3-1 Southland) vs No. 9 Nicholls (4-2, 3-0 Southland)
Live Stats • ESPN+ • KSAM 101.7 FM
@BearkatsFB on Twitter • SHSU Game Notes • Nicholls Game Notes

The Sam Houston State Bearkats will have a chance to rebound in a big way from its first conference loss of the season on Saturday when it welcomes No. 9 Nicholls to Bowers Stadium.

The game will air live and can be viewed on ESPN+. Tom Franklin will be on the call with Gerald Sanchez 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 bringing the action over the airwaves.

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.

QUICK HITTERS

- Saturday’s game vs Nicholls will be a big one with the Colonels ranked No. 9 in the nation in both the STATS FCS and NCAA Coaches’ polls. The last time the Kats welcomed a top-10 team to Bowers Stadium was in 2014 when No. 9 Southeastern Louisiana came to town for the first round of the FCS Playoffs. The Kats won that game 21-17 and eventually advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs.

- Saturday will also mark the first time the Kats have hosted a top-10 ranked team in the regular season since defeating No. 2 Eastern Washington, 49-34, in 2013. In fact, the Bearkats have won each of the last 6 times they have hosted a team ranked in the top 10 of the polls dating back through 2004. The last time they lost to a top-10 team at home was in 2002 when they fell, 47-10, to No. 2 McNeese.

- Sam Houston enters Saturday leading the FCS in total TFLs (84), TFLs per game (12.0) and opponent’s third-down conversion percentage (28 for 121; 23.1 percent).

- The Kats defense also ranks fifth in the FCS and leading the Southland in rushing defense (75.4 ypg), 12th in the FCS in total defense (314.0 ypg) and third in sacks (3.86 spg).

- The Kats’ defense has been a true team effort as no player ranks in the top 25 in the entire SLC in total tackles. Sophomore linebacker Trevor Williams (5.7 tpg) and senior safety Will Locket (5.4 tpg) are the only players on the team to average more than 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 12.0 TFLs per game after racking up 19.0 vs Lamar on Saturday. They have totaled 84 TFLs this year and are averaging 2.2 TFLs per game more than anyone else in the SLC. Oddly enough, 4 of the top 9 teams in the FCS in TFLs hail from the SLC, including 3 in the top 6.

- 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.

- 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).

MORE QUICK HITTERS

- The Kats had 6 takeaways against Stephen F. Austin, their most in a single game since 2013, and had 2 more takeaways on Saturday against Lamar. For the year the Kats are tops in the FCS with 20 total takeaways (11 fumbles, 9 interceptions). However, the Kats rank just 37th in the FCS in turnover margin after having turned the ball over 18 times (7 fumbles, 11 interceptions).

- Sam Houston State has 96 wins in the 2010s decade, which is second only to North Dakota State’s 127 wins in the FCS ranks. Eastern Washington (93) and Jacksonville State (90) are the next 2 on the list.

- Senior wide receiver Nathan 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 359 more yards in 2019 to reach the mark, an average of 71.8 yards per game for the final 5 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.

- Quarterback Ty Brock threw for 114 yards in the loss to Lamar and now has 3,408 yards passing for his career. That ranks 14th all-time at SHSU. He needs 74 yards to pass former Bearkat quarterback Josh McCown on the list as McCown threw for 3,481 yards in his lone year as a Bearkat. With 424 more yards passing, Brock would move into the all-time top 10 as just a redshirt sophomore.

WITH A BEARKAT WIN ...

- K.C. Keeler would win his 231st career game. He is currently in sole possession of 14th all-time among FCS head coaches with Joe Taylor and Chris Ault next on the list, tied for 12th with 233 career wins among coaches who spent at least 10 years at FCS schools. Keeler’s 230 victories are the second most among active coaches in the FCS behind only Al Bagnoli of Columbia who has 259.

- Keeler would win his 57th game as head coach of the Bearkats and would be 1 win behind former Lamar head coach Vernon Glass for 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.

- SHSU would move back into at least a tie for first place in the Southland Conference.

LEFTOVERS FROM A 20-17 LOSS TO LAMAR IN TRIPLE OVERTIME

- Donovan Williams rushed a career-high 29 times for 126 yards and a touchdown. It was his third 100-yard game of the season and his second in a row. He has at least 1 rushing touchdown in 6 of 7 games played this year and ranks third in the SLC with 72.4 yards per game.

- Nathan Stewart finished with 55 yards receiving and a touchdown. He now has 4,356 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.

- The game was the first triple OT game in Bearkat history. The Kats are now 3-6 all-time in overtime games, including 2-3 at Bowers Stadium. They had previously twice gone to double OT (2010 vs Northwestern State; 2008 vs Stephen F. Austin). The game is one of 3 games involving FCS teams to go to triple OT this year with the others being Northern Iowa’s 29-26 loss to Iowa State in Week 1, and Missouri State’s 37-31 win over Western Illinois in Week 6.

- Of the 16 offensive drives for Lamar in regulation, they only managed 1 red zone penetration vs the Bearkat defense, getting no closer to the goal line than the 17-yard line. Of those 16 offensive drives for the Cardinals, 9 were of 3 plays or less and 5 ended in negative yardage gained.

- The Bearkats racked up 19.0 tackles for loss against the Cardinals, the most since totaling 19.0 TFLs vs SFA in the 2014 Battle of the Piney Woods. It was the fifth time in 7 games the Kats have reached double figures in TFLs, including each of their 4 Southland Conference games. In those 4 SLC contests the Kats have racked up 56.0 TFLs for a total loss of 220 yards.

- The Kats’ defense did that damage despite no player having more than 3.0 TFLs (Joseph Wallace and Jevon Leon). In all, the Kats had 12 players rack up at least 1.0 TFL against the Cardinals.

- Linebacker Trevor Williams spearheaded the Bearkat defensive attack, racking up a career-high 15 tackles - 13 solo - with 2.5 TFLs and 1.5 sacks.

- Lamar entered Saturday averaging over 190 yards, tops in the SLC, on the ground and having racked up 423 rushing yards on the Bearkats in 2018. That was far from the case this year as LU had just 34 yards on 49 attempts against the Kats and for the game averaged 0.7 yards per rush and just 2.9 yards per play.

THE LAST TIME THE KATS FACED NICHOLLS

- The No. 11 ranked Bearkats had to wait out more than a 3-hour weather delay, and then were shut out for the final 3 quarters of play as the No. 18 Colonels won 27-7 at Guidry Field in 2018.

- The game was delayed more than 3 hours due to lightning in the area, but SHSU managed just 319 yards of offense as the Colonels snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Kats that dated back to 2005.

- When he came out for the final 2 series of the game, it was the first time then RS-Freshman quarterback Ty Brock had seen the field in nearly 2 calendar years. He was one of the top quarterbacks in the country coming out of College Station HS following the 2016 season, but played only 3 quarters of varsity football in high school due to suffering injuries to each leg. That included missing his entire junior year and the majority of his senior year.

- The Kats were 10-for-10 in red zone scoring chances in their first 2 games of 2018, but were just 1-for-3 vs the Colonels.

- The Kats trailed just 13-7 late in the third quarter when they mounted a 10-play, 86-yard drive that included 3 connections from Mike Dare to Nathan Stewart for 47 yards; however, the drive ended when Dare was picked off by Ahmani Martin at the 1-yard line in what would be the Kats’ final red zone penetration of the night.