A collective sigh of relief filled Bowers Stadium last Thursday when the Sam Houston State Bearkats edged out the Angelo State Rams, 17-13 in the season opener. In what was expected to be a blowout instead turned into a too-close-for-comfort type atmosphere in which SHSU nearly blew a 17-point lead. However, in the end the Kats were bailed out by their defense, which stepped up for an offense that failed to tack on points to put the game out of reach.
“Any time you win a college football game, you need to feel good about that,” SHSU head coach Todd Whitten said. “What I don’t feel good about is how we played. Some of the areas we thought were going to be problem areas were.”
There was however, no concern about sophomore running back Chris Poullard.
Stepping into the shoes of the departed D.D. Terry, Poullard rushed for a game-high 134 yards on 22 carries. He also was the team leader with 5 receptions for 71 yards.
Most of the Bearkat nation was excited to see transfer quarterback Rhett Bomar and he showed a little bit of everything on this evening, completing 16 of 24 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown. Afterwards, Bomar expressed how much it meant to be back playing the game he loved and missed so much.
“It just great, I can’t even explain it,” he said. “It had been 18 or 19 months since I played ball. You can practice all you want but it’s not the same I think after I got hit that first time, it kind of woke me up a little bit. After that everything was alright, now we can put everything else behind us.”
Things didn’t begin so smooth for the former Oklahoma quarterback.
On his first pass attempt, Bomar threw a perfect spiral deep downfield that was dropped by Catron Houston. Then facing a third and four, Bomar was picked off by the Rams Ian Ritchey, who made an excellent play dropping back into zone coverage.
The Bearkats defense returned the favor on their next possession when they stuffed Daniel Thomas (31 carries, 113 yards) on a fourth and one from the Kats 21-yard line. SHSU wasted no time in making their next possession count when Bomar hooked up with Justin Wells on a 64-yard pass and catch along the right sideline.
Leading 10-0 after a Taylor Wilkins field goal, Bomar would score on an 8-yard quarterback draw to give the Kats a demanding 17-0 lead with 2:15 left in the first half.
The Rams would score 13 unanswered points before being stopped on their final possession. Transfer Chris Brown came up with a huge sack that ended any shot the Rams had at getting within scoring position.
SHSU will have another chance at shoring up their concerns when they host Arkansas-Monticello this Saturday at 6 p.m.