October 1, 2016
2016 Battle of the Piney Woods
Stephen F. Austin was looking good after forcing Sam Houston State to punt on its first two possessions. However, it didn’t take long for the second-ranked FCS team in the nation to turn back into the Bearkats.
Displaying a quick-strike offense, to go with a solid performance from its defense, Sam Houston routed SFA 63-28 on Saturday at NRG Stadium.
“It’s exciting when you have a team like this,” said Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler, who collected his 200th win in 23 years as a college head coach. “I feel really good where we’re going.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re on the road to being a really good football team.”
There was little the Lumberjacks could do to slow down the Bearkats. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe threw for a school single-game record seven touchdown passes and 438 yards. The Bearkats snapped SFA’s three-game win streak and won the Battle of the Piney Woods for a sixth straight year, before a crowd of 27,411.
Nathan Stewart and Yedidiah Louis had two touchdown receptions each for Sam Houston (4-0, 3-0), which is behind only perennial power North Dakota State in the national polls.
Corey Avery rushed for two touchdowns for the Kats, who piled up 653 yards. Backup running back Remus Bulmer rushed for 119 yards.
“That’s an elite offensive football team,” SFA coach Clint Conque said. “We got a lot of work to do but I do believe we got a chance to be a pretty good football team.
“They keep dialing up those backs and quality receivers and there was some good catches made and throws from them.”
After punting on its first two series, Sam Houston scored touchdowns on its next four possessions to take control of the Southland Conference game. After one quarter, the Bearkats led 28-0 and had accumulated 252 yards.
Sam Houston had first-half scoring drives that took 39, 40 and 44 seconds. Briscoe, who did not play in the fourth quarter, passed for 334 yards in the opening half.
“This is the best game we’ve played,” Briscoe said. “We have such high expectations. We’ve played well the last couple of weeks, but we’ve been frustrated because we knew that’s not the best we could do.
“Coming into this week we knew we were going to have to play our best offensive football to win. And I think we did that. It’s really special what our offense can do when we play our best football.”
After the first quarter, SFA was playing catch up. Hunter Taylor passed for 263 yards and a touchdown and backup Zach Conque passed for 116 yards and two touchdowns. SFA’s Tamrick Pace had 11 receptions for 144 yards.
The Lumberjacks (3-2, 2-1) could not run the ball effectively, limiting their efforts to keep pace with the Kats, who led 42-7 at halftime, piling up 402 yards of offense over the first two quarters.
SFA passed for 379 yards, but rushed for only 67 yards on 32 attempts. Last year the Lumberjacks rushed for 336 yards in a 34-28 loss to the Kats.
Defensive end Derick Roberson had two of Sam Houston’s five sacks.