Bearkats get caught in win

The Bearkats came back from a horrifying 100-yard opening kick-off return to pound Western Illinios 49-24 and break school records Saturday.As the Bearkats watched Leatherneck Terry Tharp shoot up the field on the opening kick-off, it seemed like a repeat of the McNeese game only a week ago, but Tharp’s return did not set the tone of the game.Instead, an on-fire offense came out and burned the Leathernecks with 35 unanswered points in the first quarter, starting with Keith Heinrich on the scoring end an explosive Josh McCown pass just over minutes later.But that wouldn’t be the end of McCown’s first quarter performance. He hit Jonathon Cooper with two more TD passes and Corey Zeno with one more to close out the first quarter.”Josh got hot early and he stayed hot,” head coach Ron Randleman said. “Cooper had a great game. Heinrich had some great catches and with the receivers, we had no drops. So, I think it was a culmination of all those things.”Whenever you can, you like to get your quarterback off to a good start with some completions early,” Randleman said. “Then it goes from there.”McCown’s breakout performance in the first quarter put his name in the SHSU record books as one of only two Bearkats to complete five touchdown passes in one game.”Josh is just a good quarterback,” Randleman said. “He’s got a good arm. He made a lot of good decisions and he just threw it well.”McCown wasn’t the only one breaking records though.Cooper put his name in the books too. Cooper broke two school records with his nine passes for 242 yards in one game and 15 touchdown catches for one season.”Fifteen touchdowns is unbelievable after nine ball games,” Randleman said. “He’s worked hard to achieve that. He’s been a four-year starter, but he’s gotten better every year.”Cooper broke the 224-yard single game reception mark posted by Matt Dominguez only two years ago. Dominguez also set the record for scoring catches with 13 in the same year.”We scored 35 points in the first quarter, and that’s really a product of two things,” Randleman said. “We were getting the ball a lot offensively, and we were getting the ball back quickly.”We had four explosions in the first quarter, and they hadnone,” Randleman siad.It wasn’t all the offense getting the ball in the end zone though. With the help of the defensive line, Mark Hughes grabbed an interception in the first quarter to put six points on the board for SHSU.”Any time you see interceptions, take a look at the film and you’ll see pressure by our defensive line,” Randleman said. “It all starts up front.”The defense caught a total of three interceptions and one fumble return during the first quarter.The Bearkats would continue to dominate the game with two more touchdowns in the second and third quarters.The Bearkat’s season record improved to 7-2 after the non-conference contest.”It’s an awefully good win because it’s over an awefully good team, a nationally ranked team,” Randleman said.The Bearkats go into next week’s Homecoming game against Jacksonville State with a 3-1 Southland Conference record. They are tied for first place with Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin State, and McNeese State trails by one game at 2-1.Randleman said Jacksonville is bringing an outstanding offensive line that leads the conference in total offensive yardage, headed by a great quarterback.”They’re coming in here with a good football team, who still feels like they have a chance,” Randleman said.”(This week’s game) is huge. We’ve got to win it. There are no options here,” Randleman said. “It’s get after ’em time and we’re going to have to play well.”The game kicks-off at 2 p.m. Saturday at Bowers Stadium.

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