Up for the challenge

When the season began, one of the biggest question marks the Bearkats’ faced was how to fill the void left by running back D.D. Terry. Terry, who accumulated over 1,300 yards on the ground with 15 touchdowns, was the focal point of the offense last year and it seemed difficult to replace him. However, with the recent emergence of sophomore running back Chris Poullard, people are left scratching their heads thinking “D.D. who?”

Poullard has become one of the best running backs in the Southland Conference, and though it may have been stressful to some to try and outperform the Kats’ previous leading rusher, Poullard was ready to take on the challenge at the beginning of the season.

“There was no pressure,” Poullard said. “I just needed to come out here and play. I knew that D.D. (Terry) was a phenomenal player last year, and I just wanted to come out here and make my own mark. I just take it one game and one play at a time.”

Having already accumulated over 1,000 yards of total offense, including 782 on the ground, Poullard has emerged as one of the rising stars in the Southland Conference. Playing sparingly in 2006 with only 15 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown, Poullard currently ranks fourth in the Southland Conference in rushing yards (782), tied for first with 10 rushing touchdowns and has a chance of eclipsing 1,000 yards with two games remaining. Still young with two years of eligibility remaining, the 20-year-old from Killeen has been consistently improving throughout the season, which should be giving opposing defensive coordinators more to worry about.

“I’ve tried to improve my blocking and understand the defenses we are going against each and every week,” Poullard said. “I’ve been trying to take it slow, take it one play at a time and try to make the big play.”

Despite failing to find the end zone in his first start against Angelo State, Poullard became an integral part of the Kats 17-13 win with 130 yards on 22 carries in the season opener.

Poullard went through a rough patch in the early portion of the season in games against Oklahoma State and North Dakota State with just 30 and 14 yards rushing respectively.

Yet, Poullard has improved his production dramatically since entering SLC play.

The Kats have won their last three games and Poullard has been one of the biggest reasons for their success, rushing for 186 on 20 carries and two touchdowns against Northwestern State, 63 yards and three touchdowns against rival Stephen F. Austin and most recently 130 yards on 34 carries and a touchdown against Nicholls State.

After watching starting quarterback Rhett Bomar go down to a knee injury against Nicholls State on Saturday, Poullard came back strong in the second half, rushing 22 times for 86 yards, including the critical one-yard-gain on fourth down to secure the victory on Parent’s Weekend.

With the injury to Bomar, Poullard knows more carries will be headed his way and is ready to finish the season strong.

“There really isn’t any pressure; I just need to go out there and play ball,” Poullard said. “My team depends on me a lot and I will step up to the plate and not let anyone down. I’m sorry Rhett took a fall, but now as a team, everyone has to step up and make plays.”

“We’re going to try and win these last two games and have a winning season for the seniors to give them a good send off.”

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