Tim Flanders tied the Sam Houston career record for most 100-yard rushing yard games, Robert Shaw scored on a blocked punt and the Bearkat defense created three turnovers as the Bearkats rolled to a 38-14 Southland Conference football victory over McNeese State Saturday at Cowboy Stadium.
The win was only the second for Sam Houston in Lake Charles in the Bearkats’ 24 years of NCAA Division I FCS football in the Southland Conference. The victory is only the fourth against the Cowboys in 24 Southland meetings.
Flanders carried 19 times for 162 yards with touchdown runs of seven and 55 yards. The sophomore running back also had another 55-yard run that didn’t score and caught a 50-yard shovel pass from quarterback Brian Bell.
The performance, Flanders’ second highest single game rushing total behind his 194 yards at New Mexico, marked his 11th 100-yard performance in 17 games as a Bearkat. That ties Charles Harris for the school record. Harris posted 11 100-yard games as the Kats’ tailback from 1991 to 1994.
Bell completed five of seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. Cowboy quarterback Cody Stroud was McNeese’s offensive leader with 200 yards passing with 19 completions on 31 attempts.
Sam Houston stands 7-0 for the season, the program’s best season start since the Bearkats’ NAIA national co-champions of 1964 ran off eight straight wins before falling to Sul Ross. Counting SHSU’s wins over Central Arkansas and Texas State to end the 2010 season, Sam Houston has won nine games in a row, its longest winning streak since the school record of 12 in 1955 and 1956.
The Bearkat defense limited McNeese State, now 3-4 for the year and 2-2 in Southland play, to 264 total yards (64 rushing, 200 passing). The Bearkats totaled 12 tackles for losses and six quarterback sacks.
The defense came out of the gates quickly, forcing three first quarter turnovers as Kenneth Jenkins, Preston Sanders and Eddie DeCambre
Decambre’s recovery at the McNeese 24 set up a four-play touchdown drive with Brian Bell going the final six yards after faking a handoff to Flanders. The score and Michael Antonio’s extra point gave Sam Houston a 7-0 lead with 1:45 remaining in the opening period.
The Cowboys drove 74 yards in 12 plays on their next possession to tie the contest 7-7. On fourth-and-goal at the one, Cody Stroud dived into the end zone on a quarterback sneak for the score.
Sam Houston answered immediately as Bell found Torrance Williams for a 38-yard pass to the McNeese 12. After a penalty, Flanders raced in for a seven-yard score to put SHSU up 14-7 with 8:35 to play in the second quarter.
The Bearkats had two other scoring opportunities in the first half. Jenkins’ fumble started Sam Houston’s first possession of the game at the McNeese 17 and in the second quarter a 55-yard run by Flanders had put the Kats on the Cowboy 14-yard line. But both drives ended with missed field goals.
Flanders broke over the right side for a 55-yard touchdown on the Bearkats’ first offensive play of the second half to give Sam Houston a 21-7 lead just two minutes and six seconds into the third quarter. Craig Alaniz added the extra point.
Seven minutes later, after the Kat defense force Ben Bougeois to punt from the McNeese 16-yard line, Williams blocked the kick and Robert Shaw picked up the loose ball in the end zone as Sam Houston jumped out to a 28-7 margin with 5:34 remaining in the quarter.
The score was Shaw’s second on a blocked punt in two years. His previous punt block TD came last year against Southeastern Louisiana.
After another punt, Bell found Trey Diller open for a 41-yard touchdown pass to go build a 35-7 lead with 3:51 left before the fourth period.
Flanders took a shovel pass from Bell 50 yards to the two-yard line to set up a 33-yard field goal by Alaniz to put the score at 38-7 with 12:12 remaining in the game.