The Sam Houston State University cheerleaders and dance team upstaged their SMU counterparts and dazzled the crowd of Bearkat faithful Saturday night at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. If only the Bearkat football team had done the same.
Things went downhill fast for the Bearkats (1-1) as the Mustangs (1-2) made good use of their first possession, driving the ball 80 yards on eight plays for the first touchdown of the game. The abrupt scoring drive put SMU ahead 7-0 and gave the Mustangs the lead for the rest of the game, eventually winning 45-14.
The SHSU offense took the field with high hopes; despite losing starting quarter back Wade Pate to a possible season-ending shoulder injury against Arkansas-Monticello. Yet the loss was blatant as the Bearkats failed to produce a single point in the first half.
After sustaining a penalty and giving up a sack in the first quarter, QB Phillip Daugherty threw an interception on the fifth play of the drive to the Mustangs’ Wilton McCray to abruptly end any momentum the Bearkats may have had.
“Daugherty and (Brett) Hicks did pretty good,” SHSU head coach Todd Whitten said. “Daugherty had a couple of turnovers, but they both did good.”
The speedy SMU offense would score again on its next possession, bringing the score to 14-0, before Ed Jackson sacked Mustang quarterback Justin Willis to end the quarter.
“Their offense was very efficient and we just couldn’t come up with the big plays,” Whitten said of the SHSU defense.
The Bearkats took the field in the second quarter with plenty of time to close the gap, yet couldn’t come up with the big plays to put the points on the board or keep the SMU touchdowns from coming.
The Mustangs tore apart the Bearkat defense in the second quarter, with each of their next three drives ending in a touchdown. To add injury to insult, a blocked punt by SMU on the Bearkats first drive resulted in a touchdown for the Mustangs in just three plays.
“We gave them a short field and easy scores,” Whitten said. “Offensively, the blocked punt and the turnovers really hurt us.”
By the time the marching bands took the field, the Bearkats were in a gaping 35-0 hole.
In the second half, the SMU defense had a more difficult time keeping the SHSU offense quiet.
Brett Hicks took over for Daugherty in the third quarter and ended the night completing 16-of-26 for 134 passing yards. After fumbling the ball on the Bearkats’ second possession, Hicks redeemed himself with an 84-yard drive that ended with RB D.D. Terry scoring the first touchdown of the game.
After the game, Whitten announced Hicks will be the new starter.
Terry finished the game as the leading rusher for the Bearkats, totaling 42 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns.
“Our offense moved the ball well. We had 22 first downs,” Whitten said. “We’ve been working on improving our third-down situations, and it’s getting better.”
The fourth quarter brought some light to the Bearkat fans still in attendance as Terry rushed for another touchdown while the defense held SMU to a field goal. The Bearkats travel to Springfield, Missouri this weekend to take on Missouri State at 6 p.m.