Up until Saturday’s Homecoming game against the Northwestern State Demons, the Sam Houston State Bearkats (3-4, 1-2 SLC) and head coach Todd Whitten were struggling to find the right answers on how to snap a four-game losing skid. It was on this particular day, however, that Chris Poullard and Rhett Bomar, along with a solid defense, proved to be the solution everyone was looking for and the reward was an encouraging 42-20 victory in front of a packed house at Bowers Stadium.
Poullard ran for a season-high 191 yards on 20 carries and provided the spark the Bearkats’ offense was desperately looking for. Trailing 7-0 after a Bomar interception was returned 15-yards for a touchdown by the Demons’ Blake Delcambre, Poullard took a pitch from Bomar around the right end and dashed 61 yards for the score behind a block from wide receiver Justin Wells.
Poullard, who received “Honorable Mention” for Southland Conference Player of the Week, gave all the credit to others around him for his career game and long touchdown run on Saturday.
“Every play you just go as hard as you can because you don’t know which play could end up being a big one,” Poullard said. “Justin Wells, on my 61-yard touchdown, it’s all because of him blocking and the offensive line that the play was so successful.”
Poullard also did his best Ladianian Tomlinson impression in the first quarter when he took a toss at the Demons’ 35-yard line, rolled out to the right and threw back to a wide-open Bomar for a 33-yard gain. If Poullard’s pass had been on mark, Bomar would have easily scored; instead he was stopped at the two-yard line.
“In practice and with no pressure and no one watching, it’s a perfect pass. In the game, I was trying to do a little too much and trying to find the laces. Thankfully, Rhett had the athletic ability to come back and catch it. Next time it’s going to be a spiral,” Poullard said with a laugh.
The sophomore running back would make up for his wobbly throw two plays later when he gave the Bearkats the lead for good on a 6-yard run, giving him 92 yards in the first quarter and a 14-7 lead.
After a TyMagic Robinson 25-yard touchdown in the second quarter, Bomar exhibited his mobility and speed on a 59-yard run through the middle of the Demons’ defense en route to a score and a 28-7 lead. It was the type of run that Bearkats’ fans have been waiting to see all season.
“That draw he ran was phenomenal,” Whitten said. “He really showed his athletic ability. He plays the game full speed; that’s what makes him a good player.”
Bomar would add two more rushing touchdowns of 1 and 17 yards in the second half to close out the Demons, who have yet to win a game on the road this season.
SHSU’s secondary had, statistically one of their best games of the season, holding Demons’ quarterback Germayne Edmond to only 136 yards passing and completing only 14 of 34 passes. All in all, it was a game that Whitten and the rest of the Bearkats could feel good about after a stressful past six weeks.
“It’s been a long month for us,” Whitten said. “Losing four in a row is really hard. The kids, coaches, everybody – you start second guessing yourself and frustration can set in. You’ve just got to fight through it. I just can’t say enough about our guys and the way they played today. It feels really good to get a win on Homecoming; that’s one of the few things in this world that ought to happen.”
Next up for the Bearkats is a trip to Nacogdoches and the “Battle of the Piney Woods” against Stephen F. Austin (0-7, 0-3 SLC). This game will also mark Bomar’s first against the Bearkats’ conference rival.
“I was at the game last season watching on the sidelines,” Bomar said. “It was a good atmosphere and we thrive in those type of environments. We want to win out the rest of the season and today was a good start.”