Sophomore quarterback Brian Bell passed for 198 yards including touchdowns of seven and 44 yards to lead Sam Houston State to a 20-6 victory over Western Illinois in the season opener for both teams.
Bearkat sophomore running back Tim Flanders rushed 24 times for 100 yards to lead both teams.
Miquel Antonio kicked field goals of 30 and 31 yards in the first and second quarters, respectively. The Bearkats picked up their first touchdown on Bell’s seven-yard pass to Grant Merritt to complete a nine-play 69-yard drive.
Bell found Ryan Wilson open down the right side for a 44-yard touchdown pass with 11:48 to play in the third quarter.
WIU quarterback Josh Hudson completed a 92-yard touchdown pass to Terruin Crump for the Leathernecks’ only score.
The victory avenged a 56-14 loss to WIU last year in the season game of SHSU’s 2010 season. Sam Houston, with Bell starting at quarterback, has won seven of their last 10 games.
The Sam Houston defense allowed Western Illinois only 216 total yards, sacking the Leathernecks’ two quarterbacks five times for 46 yards in losses.
Jarrett Brown accounted for two of the sacks. Eric Fieilo, Will Henry and Andrew Weaver each accounted for one sack.
Darnell Taylor led Sam Houston with seven tackles.