In past years, the annual “Battle of the Piney Woods” between the Sam Houston State University Bearkats (2-4, 1-2) and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (4-3, 1-2) have been hard-fought battles that usually need nearly every minute of play before a winner can be decided.
Last Thursday at Bowers Stadium, a 31-point Bearkat first half would have been enough to pull out a victory. The Bearkats did score in the second half though, and when all the time of the second half had ticked away, the Bearkats had scored three more touchdowns. They won the contest 52-24.
During the first half of the game, the Bearkats came out and quickly distanced themselves from their long-time rivals. On their second drive, running back Stevie Smith took the ball 40 yards for the first score of the game.
SHSU went on to score four more times before SFA finally made any noise. Down 31-0, the Lumberjacks posted their first points of the game on a 26-yard field goal with just over two minutes left to play in the first half.
When the second half began, the Bearkats picked up right where they left off. After a 21 point third quarter, SHSU went into the final quarter with 42 points for padding.
After weeks of fluctuation and inconsistency, the Sam Houston offense finally came full circle with a well mixed run and pass attack that accumulated just over 500 yards of total offense. The Bearkats’ ability to run the ball successfully opened up the opportunity of quarterback Phillip Daugherty to pick a part the Lumberjack secondary.
Smith, along with running back Jason Godfrey, handled the majority of the carries for the Bearkat running game. Godfrey carried the ball 16 times for 164 yards and made his way into the end zone twice. Smith had eight carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns of his own.
The SHSU offensive line successfully controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the contest. This opened up holes for the running attack and helped stabilize the Bearkat passing attack. Daugherty completed the 14 of the 23 passes he attempted for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Smith led all Bearkat receivers with four catches for 98 yards.
Defensively, SHSU managed to suffocate the dangerous Lumberjack passing game. Led by Zeke Dixon, SFA went into the game with one of the most successful aerial attacks in the Southland Conference. Against the Bearkats, Dixon completed only six of the 25 passes he attempted and was kept out of the end zone all night.
For the second consecutive year, the Bearkats came out of the annual “Battle of the Piney Woods” victorious. With their first conference victory under their belts, the Bearkats will now prepare to face off against Southland powerhouse McNeese State.