Tim Flanders broke a Southland Conference scoring record and the Bearkat defense came up with big turnovers when it had to as Sam Houston State marched into the NCAA Division I FCS Playoffs with a perfect 11-0 record thanks to a 36-14 win over Texas State Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.
Flanders carried 17 times for 132 yards and two touchdowns. The 100-plus performance marked his sixth 100-yard game of the season and the 13th of his career. His two touchdowns set a new Southland Conference record for both TDs (22) and points (132) in one season. Brent Grimes of Central Arkansas set the old mark of 21 touchdowns and 126 points in 2008.
Flanders also tied the Southland Conference and Sam Houston school records for rushing touchdowns with 20. Luther Turner of Sam Houston set the record in 1987. The victory also extends the Bearkats’ winning streak to a school record 13 games in a row (going back to the final two games of 2010).
As Southland Conference champion, Sam Houston learns its NCAA playoff fate Sunday morning when the national championship brackets will be announced on ESPNU in a 9 a.m. telecast.
The Bearkats out-gained Texas State 368 total yards to 236. Bell completed 9-of-21 passes for 137 yards and a score. Sam Houston defense recovered to Bobcat fumbles and blocked a field goal.
Sam Houston becomes only the eighth Southland Conference team to complete the regular season undefeated and untied.
The Bearkat offense took only 52 seconds to strike for its first score. On the second play after Texas State’s first punt, Flanders broke for a quick 32-yard touchdown run. Craig Alaniz’s extra point put Sam Houston up 7-0 just two minutes and fifty seconds into the contest.
The tally marked the third game this season the Bearkats scored on their first offensive possession.
Sam Houston drove 58 yards in 10 yards the next time the Kats had the ball as Alaniz booted a 35-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead with 5:27 remaining in the first period.
On a fourth down and one at the Bobcat 28 yard line on the first play of the second quarter, Torance Williams made a diving one-handed catch in the end zone for Sam Houston’s second touchdown. Pass inference was called on the play but Williams came up with the ball anyway as SHSU took a 17-0 lead.
Tyler Arndt found Darius Bolden for a nine-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining in the first half to put the Bobcats on the board. The scoring drive covered 32-yards in four plays after a Danny Williams fumble recovery. Sam Houston took a 17-7 lead into the locker room at intermission.
After a 16-yard punt return by Andy Erickson and Terrence Franks broke for a 15-yard rush, Texas State set up shop at the Bearkat 13-yard line. Two plays later, Arndt hit Isiah Battle for a 15-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bearkat margin to 17-14 with 10:09 to play in the third quarter.
Sam Houston came right back, driving 70 yards in nine plays for a 27-yard Alaniz field goal with 5:35 left in the third period. Bell hit Sincere for a 28-yard pass to the 50 and Flanders ran 21 yards to the Texas State 29 to set up the score.
Three big defensive plays slowed the Bobcat offense as Darius Taylor and Kenneth Jenkins recovered fumbles and Preston Sanders tackle for loss to spurred a three-and-out for Texas State at their own nine.
Jenkins fumble recovery set up a four-play, 29-yard drive as gained 20-yards on a pass-and-run from Bell, then dived over from the two for his second score of the day. Sam Houston led 26-14 with 14:24 to play.
Sanders again came up with a big play with a field goal block after the Bobcats had driven to the Bearkat 27 with 10 minutes to play. The return of the block by Jenkins set up a six-play 48-yard scoring drive climaxed by a 13-yard touchdown run by Ryan Wilson to give Sam Houston a 33-14 lead with 5:28 to play.
Sam Houston drove 38 yards for a 30-yard field goal by Alaniz with 51 seconds remaining.