Albuquerque, NM – Sophomore running back Tim Flanders set a school record with five rushing touchdowns including a four-yard score for the game-winner in overtime as Sam Houston defeated New Mexico 48-45 Saturday night at University Stadium.
The win was only the Bearkats’ third in 25-games against NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams since Sam Houston moved up to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in 1986. The Kats also defeated Louisiana-Monroe in 2000 and Louisiana-Lafayette in 2001.
The overtime win marked the second victory in seven extra time games.
“What can I say about that one,” said head coach Willie Fritz. “It was a back and forth game there at the end and we were able to come out on top. To be able to battle like that on the road against an FBS opponent is big for our program.”
Flanders rushed 30 times for a career high 194 yards. The performance was the 11th highest rushing total by a Bearkat running back. Sam Houston gained 373 yards on the ground, the sixth highest team total ever and the most for the Kat offense since 1991.
“Most importantly we were able to win the game,” Flanders said after learing of the school record. “We just kept having to go out there and put points on the board and we never lost faith.”
Richard Sincere carried 11 times for 72 yards and quarterback Brian Bell ran for 55 yards and completed 10 of 18 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Torrance Williams and Flanders each caught three passes, Williams gaining 66 yards and Flanders 44.
Quarterback B.R. Holbrook came off the bench to pass for 289 yards and two touchdowns and Deon Long caught nine passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead New Mexico (0-4).
The two teams combined for 93 points and 1,075 totals yards in the contest.
While the Bearkat defense allowed 528 yards, they came up big in overtime, stopping a Lobo attack that had rallied for 21 fourth quarter points at the the SHSU four-yard line and limiting UMN to a field goal.
Sam Houston took just four plays to score the winning touchdown. Bell ran for gains of 10 and six yards before Flanders rushed for a five-yard gain and then the winning touchdown.
Long put together a highlight reel of big plays to score all three Lobo touchdowns in the first half. Long took only 14 seconds to put UNM up 7-0 by returning the opening kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown.
Later, he caught touchdown passes for 25 and 60-yards to tie the game 14-14 with 8:57 in the second quarter and 21-21 just 4:14 before intermission.
The Bearkats opened their scoring on their second possession of the game as Bell found Brian Closner for a 44-yard touchdown pass to complete a four-play, 54-yard drive to tie the contest 7-7 with 10:22 to play in the first quarter.
Flanders broke 61 through a hole opened by Travis Watson and Chris Crockett to give Sam Houston a 14-7 lead with 6:35 to go in the first. The run was a career long for the sophomore, eclipsing his 54-yard run against Gardner-Webb last year.
Following a 34-yard kickoff return by Closner and a 36-yard gain on a reverse by Torrance Williams, the Bearkats owned a first-and-goal situation. Bell kept, fumbling at the goal line. The ball was recovered in the end zone by Flanders for his second touchdown of the day. The Kats were back up 21-14 with 4:54 to play before intermission.
Despite the tie score at halftime, the Bearkats outgained the Lobos 296 total yards to 180 in the first two periods.
Will Henry’s fumble recovery at the New Mexico 44-yard line gave Sam Houston the opportunity to take the lead again. Bell’s five yard touchdown pass to Keith Blanton completed a 10-play drive to put Sam Houston 28-21 with 6:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bearkats opened the fourth quarter with a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive to go up 35-21 with 12:03 to play. Flanders’ two-yard scoring run was set up by a 51-yard catch by Williams.
Flanders broke for a 53-yard touchdown to put Sam Houston up 42-28 with 7:33 to play.
Holbrook engineered three 80-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to force overtime after regulation play ended in a 42-42 tie. Holbrook hit Mike Scarlett for a 19-yard score at the 9:33 mark. Crusoe Gongbay cut the margin to seven points with a one-yard run with 5:56 remaining. Holbrook found Long open again for a 20-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left.