Bearkats face SWT for ‘state championship’

State bragging rights are on the line this week when Sam Houston State takes on Southwest Texas at Bowers Stadium on Saturday.The Bearkats can complete a Texas sweep with a win over the Bobcats, thanks to an upset over then No. 22 ranked Stephen F. Austin on Oct. 19 in Nacogdoches. This is the last game of the season for both teams, and a win will keep either team out of the conference cellar. Even though both teams are out of the playoff hunt, this game still has a big impact on the future of both programs.”It is a big rivalry that’s about bragging rights for our alumni, former players and it’s important in our recruiting,” SHSU defensive coordinator Craig Naivar said. “It’s the last football game for our seniors and it’s a building block for next season.”The Bearkats have been hampered this season due to injuries, a tough schedule and inconsistency on offense. The Kats have been a first half team for much of the season and sometimes struggle in the third and fourth quarters. “As a football team, we can’t just say that we are young, we have a tough schedule and we have had some injuries,” said Ron Randleman, Bearkat head coach. “We have to get better, and you can’t get better making excuses.”Senior Vance Smith will start at quarterback for the Kats and will rotate will sophomore Travis Tobaben. Smith missed a few game during the middle of the season with a broken hand and has completed 75-of-159 passing attempts for 827-yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Tobaben has completed 89-of-175 passing attempts for 1091-yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions.The Kats have gotten production from senior running back Maurice Harris and true freshman Stevie Smith, who together have rushed for over 800 yards on the season. Two sophomore standouts lead the Bearkats in receiving yards and touchdowns. Jason Mathenia leads the team in receptions with 46 and receiving yards with 654. Vincent Cartwright is second in catches and yards, but leads the team in touchdown catches with four. Naivar said that the team could expect the same style of offense from SWT that NcNeese and Northwestern State run.”They are a run-oriented football team that has three tailbacks that are running the ball very well,” Naivar said. “They do some good things with their linemen and they use shifts and motion to try to get you out manned to the sideline.”Senior Lee Davis, who has rushed for over 700-yards and 12 touchdowns, leads the Bobcat’s rushing attack. Davis averages almost five yards a carry and he had a 52-yard touchdown run earlier in the season against Southern Utah. The Bobcats also have two other backs that have rushed for over 300-yards a piece in sophomore Terrell Harris and senior Sedrick Brown. “I’m anxious to see how well we will do against Southwest because we both match up pretty well,” Randleman said. “I think Southwest is a good football team, and we are going to have to play with great effort to win the football game.”

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