The Stripes await for No. 21 Bearkats

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HUNTSVILLE – Game 9
Saturday, Oct. 26 • Conway, Ark. • 6:05 p.m. CT • First Security Field at Estes Stadium
No. 21 Sam Houston State (5-3, 4-1 Southland) at No. 12 Central Arkansas (5-2, 3-1 Southland)
Live Stats • ESPN+ • KSAM 101.7 FM
@BearkatsFB on Twitter • SHSU Game Notes • UCA Game Notes

Back atop the Southland Conference standings at back in the national rankings, the No. 21 Sam Houston State Bearkats will try to take down a ranked opponent for the second straight week when they travel to take on No. 21 Central Arkansas on Saturday on The Stripes at Estes Stadium.

The game will air live and can be viewed on ESPN+. Ted Emrich will be on the call with Shea Walker providing analysis and Lainie Fritz on the sidelines. It can also be heard locally on KSAM 101.7 FM with Rob Hipp and Brian Adams in the booth.

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 at Central Arkansas will mark the fifth consecutive season that the Kats and Bears have both been ranked at the time of their meeting. The home team has won each of the last 3 games in the series.

- The Kats are coming off a 17-0 win over No. 9 Nicholls on Saturday, vaulting them back into a tie with UIW for first place in the SLC. The win 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.

- SHSU will be in search of its first road win vs a ranked team since knocking off No. 4 McNeese, 34-29, in the second round of the 2015 FCS Playoffs. They will also be looking for their first road win vs a ranked team in the regular season since beating No. 25 Central Arkansas, 42-13, in the 2015 regular-season finale.

- The Kats brought home 2 weekly honors on Monday after the win. Royce See was named the SLC’s Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in 3 games, while Matt McRobert was the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week. See had 10 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Meanwhile, McRobert averaged 45.6 yards per punt, had a 64-yard punt and pinned the Colonels inside their own 10-yard line twice.

- Sam Houston enters Saturday leading the FCS in total TFLs (93), TFLs per game (11.6) and opponent’s third-down conversion percentage (32 for 137; 23.4 percent).

- The Kats defense also ranks third in the FCS and leading the Southland in rushing defense (72.9 ypg), 14th in the FCS in total defense (308.6 ypg) and third in sacks (3.75 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. Sophomore linebacker Trevor Williams (5.4 tpg) and senior safety Will Locket (5.3 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 11.6 TFLs per game after racking up 9.0 vs Nicholls on Saturday. They have totaled 93 TFLs this year and are averaging 1.8 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, including 2 in the top 3.

- 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 2 more wins 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).

- Nathan Stewart was held without a catch for the first time in his career on Saturday vs Nicholls, but he still 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.

- 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 89.8 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.

- 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 tied with UIW for tops in the FCS with 23 total takeaways (13 fumbles, 10 interceptions). However, the Kats rank just 29th in the FCS in turnover margin after having turned the ball over 18 times (7 fumbles, 11 interceptions).

- Sam Houston State has 97 wins in the 2010s decade, which is second only to North Dakota State’s 128 wins in the FCS ranks. Eastern Washington (94) and Jacksonville State (90) are the next 2 on the list.

- Quarterback Ty Brock threw for 116 yards in the win over Nicholls and now has 3,514 yards passing for his career. That ranks 13th all-time at SHSU, moving him past Josh McCown who had 3,481 yards in his lone year as a Bearkat. With 310 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 232nd career game. He is currently in sole possession of 14th all-time among FCS head coaches. He would be just 1 back of 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 231 victories are the second most among active coaches in the FCS behind only Al Bagnoli of Columbia who has 260.

- Keeler would win his 58th game as head coach of the Bearkats and would tie 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 own the head-to-head tiebreaker on Nicholls, Central Arkansas and UIW in any playoff scenarios.

LEFTOVERS FROM A 17-0 WIN OVER No. 9 NICHOLLS

- The shutout vs the Colonels was the second time this year the Kats have put a goose egg on the scoreboard, the other being in the home opener vs Oklahoma Panhandle State. That makes 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.

- Three Bearkats - Ty Brock, Ryan Humphries and Noah Smith - took snaps in the game; however, of the 11 passes attempted, none found the hands of all-America wide receiver Nathan Stewart. It was the first game of his career that he has not at at least 1 catch.

- The shutout was the first for the Kats vs an FCS opponent since a 74-0 shutout of Houston Baptist in 2014, the first year of the Keeler era.

- The 17 points scored in the win over the Colonels were the least among of points scored in a Bearkat win since a 14-3 win over Lamar in 2013.

- Tight end Woody Brandom turned in his biggest offensive day as a Bearkat, setting career highs with 5 catches for 90 yards. Much of that came in the form of a 61-yard catch-and-run from Brock in the opening quarter.

- The Kats played arguably its cleanest game of the year on Saturday, not turning the ball over and forcing the Colonels to work with a long field all day with an average starting field position of its own 21-yard line. It was the first time the Kats had not turned the ball over since playing North Dakota in 2018, snapping a span of 16 straight games with at least 1 turnover.

THE LAST TIME THE KATS FACED CENTRAL ARKANSAS

- The Kats got a 34-yard field goal by Tre Honshtein in OT to take down No. 13 UCA at Bowers Stadium in 2018. The win was the first OT game played by the Kats since a 48-45 win at New Mexico in 2011. Additionally, it was the first OT game at Bowers Stadium since taking on Texas State on Nov. 22, 2008 and the first OT win at Bowers since a 34-31 win over Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 1, 2008.

- Ty Brock provided an immediate spark to the Bearkat offense in his first collegiate start, and his first start at any level in over 2 full years. Brock completed 27 of 43 passes to 7 different receivers for 305 yards and a score, while also rushing for 73 yards on 18 carries and 2 more TDs on his way to earning Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Kats finished with 470 yards off total offense after averaging 321.0 ypg over the first 3 games of the 2018 season.

- With his 300 yards passing, Brock became the first Bearkat freshman to ever throw for 300 or more yards in his first career start.

- Kyran Jackson also made his first career start in the backfield, rushing 22 times for 90 yards. He also led all SHSU receivers with 8 catches for 65 yards.

- Matt McRobert connected on a 74-yard punt midway thru the second quarter, pinning the Bears on their own 2-yard line. The 74-yard punt by the Australian set a new SHSU record for the longest punt in the history of the program by 4 yards. It was also the longest in the history of Bowers Stadium.

- With Hunter Brown disqualified from the first half of the game due to a targeting penalty vs Nicholls, the Bearkat defense found others to step up and fill the void. Royce See put up a career-high 11 tackles and Adrian Contreras had a season-high 10 tackles and 2.0 TFLs. Additionally, Danzell Sims stepped in for Brown and finished with 8 tackles and 1.5 TFLs. In all, the Kats finished with 12.0 TFLs and 5.0 sacks.

- Nathan Stewart had 3 grabs for 61 yards surpassed 3,000 receiving yards for his career in last year’s game vs UCA.