Not a bad way to start the season huh?
In a span of three offensive plays, the Sam Houston Bearkats marched down the field on the opening drive of the season and capped it off with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Wade Pate to Michael Malone en route to a 41-3 victory. Pate was brilliant on the day, completing 22-of-30 passes, no interceptions and three touchdowns. Malone was the recipient of all three TD throws, two of which came on beautiful corner patterns.
Overall, it was an outing that head coach Todd Whitten was satisfied with.
“I was pretty pleased with the effort,” the second year head coach said. “Our energy on defense was great and we made some plays early on with the offense. I was pleased with the way our offensive line protected. We picked up the blitz and it led to a very efficient showing. Anytime you can score early like that it makes you as a coach breathe a little easier and realize you’re going to be able to do some things.”
Defensively, the Kats were just as impressive, limiting the Weevils to only 138 total yards of offense and forcing eight punts. Afterwards, Whitten didn’t have too much to complain about with the aggressive defense.
“We let one big play happen on the half-back pass and at times we didn’t tackle or contain the quarterback (Elija McDonald) better, but he was a pretty athletic guy that you have to give some credit to.”
After the Kats went up 6-0, with Stewart Pearcy missing the PAT, they got the ball back and drove 63 yards on nine plays and saw Andrew Audelin scamper in for a one-yard touchdown. The play was setup on a nice connection from Pate to tight end Blake Martin for 17 yards.
Pate would throw one more touchdown pass to Malone in the second quarter as the Kats took a 20-3 lead into the locker room at halftime.
With 9:49 left in the third quarter, Pate and Malone completed the trifecta with a 23-yard touchdown pass and catch to make the score 27-3.
However, in that same period, Pate suffered a separated non-throwing shoulder, as did Audelin.
X-Rays proved to be negative and neither will need surgery. However, Whitten said Monday that both could possibly play this Saturday in Dallas against SMU.
Backup quarterback Phillip Daugherty replaced Pate in the third quarter and threw his first touchdown of the season on a 21-yard pass to Catron Houston, making the score 34-3. The final touchdown of the game came on a nice 38-yard scamper by freshman Chris Poulard.
With their home opener now behind them, the Kats face one of their toughest stretches of the season with four consecutive road games. The Kats will not have another home game until Oct. 14 when they host Nicholls State for Homecoming.
For Whitten and the rest of the Kats, it will be a time to learn about themselves and a chance to play better away from Bowers Stadium.
“It just gets harder and harder every year to schedule teams,” Whitten said. “You’d like to have it where you rotate home and away week after week but it just doesn’t happen that way anymore. Our main goal though, is that we have to become a better road team. We’ve struggled in the past and we’ve got to get better in that area for later on down the road.”
The Mustangs (0-2) have come a long way in the last couple of season and Saturday has the making of a defensive slugfest. “They’ve lost to two good teams,” Whitten said. “Their defense would be the best in our conference right now. We’re really going to have to rely on our defense because points are going to be hard to come by.”