Bearkats hit the road to take on McNeese State

Since the destruction of Hurricane Rita hit in Sept., the McNeese State Cowboys (3-2, 2-1) have played the role of a displaced team. The Lake Charles, LA campus was hit hard by the second installment of a two-part disaster that struck the state of Louisiana during the hurricane season.

This Saturday, the Sam Houston State (2-4, 1-2) football team will head to the recovering area where they will play the Cowboys at their home stadium for their first home game since Hurricane Rita.

Last week, the Bearkats came alive against Stephen F. Austin. Over 500 yards of offense and 52 points was the best performance by the underachieving offense since the season opener.

“We definitely had some places where the light came on last week,” said head coach Todd Whitten. “It was good, from a coach’s standpoint, to have a game where you don’t turn the ball over and you only have six penalties.”

Even more impressive, the Bearkat defense shut down one of the best aerial attacks in the Southland Conference. With the SHSU defense dominating the line of scrimmage, the Lumberjack offense was unable to maintain any kind of rhythm until the fourth quarter.

“We got pressure on them early,” said head coach Todd Whitten. “I think we have got a pretty go defense. Our stats are somewhat deceiving.”

Against Southeastern Louisiana State last weekend, the Cowboys had offensive problems of their own. McNeese accumulated only 17 yards rushing throughout the entire contest. Going into the game, the Cowboys were ranked 22 according to the USA Today I-AA Top 25. They dropped the battle 37-13, subsequently dropping off the poll.

“I think we match up well,” said Whitten. “I expect our guys to come out and play a good game.”

Throughout most of this season, the Bearkat defense has been very efficient. This weekend, they will be forced to contain another dangerous passing attack, which is currently third in the Southland Conference in passing yards per game.

Last week’s sudden spark from the offense came because of the explosiveness of the SHSU running attack. With Jason Godfrey and Stevie Smith combining for over 250 yards on the ground, quarterback Phillip Daugherty was given more than enough time to show off his impressive arm.

“[Daugherty’s] getting better and better each game,” said Whitten. “He takes care of the ball. We just need him to get rid of the ball a little sooner so he doesn’t take as many sacks.”

Just as any conference game, this one should prove to be a contest between two equally matched teams that are both extremely hungry for a victory.

“The conference is so tough,” said Whitten. “It’s so hard. It is a very competitive league and it is even harder when you have to go on the road.”

With the Bearkats coming off their first conference win of the season and their best game since Sept., the Kats will be looking to pick up right where they left off against the Lumberjacks last week.

The game will be played in Lake Charles, LA on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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