Sam Houston State severed their playoff hopes against Central Arkansas, falling short 49-31 despite second-half momentum from the arm of Brian Bell.
Central Arkansas made an early statement the Bearkats weren’t going to leave Estes Stadium with ease coming out to a 14-0 lead in the opening 4 minutes, and maintained a steady lead throughout the afternoon.
According to GoBearkats, Saturday’s matchup marked only the second time in the last 51 Bearkat football games senior quarterback Brian Bell did not start. Bell suffered a shoulder sprain in the fourth quarter against Southeastern Louisiana in Hammond, La. last week. Freshman quarterback Jared Johnson suited up under center for SHSU but only saw two series before Bell came in during the first half.
The senior quarterback threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns, yet multiple interceptions hindered the Bearkats’ offense to narrow Central Arkansas’ lead.
Bears’ quarterback Ryan Howard took control of the air attack, connecting for four touchdowns in the opening two quarters. SHSU kicker Luc Swimberghe added 3-points for the Bearkats’ for a 21-3 lead before Reed found Taylor Reed downfield for a 10-yard touchdown, and a 28-3 lead.
Central Arkansas closed the opening half with a 42-10 lead complimented by a 54-yard interception return from Marcus Peters and a 71-yard touchdown completion from Howard to Damien Watts.
Bell found receiver Torrance Williams for an 11-yard touchdown completion to cap a 75-yard drive in the closing seconds of the third quarter chasing 42-17. Bell connected with receiver Shyon Motlagh for a 34-yard touchdown with the Bearkats’ special teams recovering their second onside kick for the second time in the half. Bell drove for 55 yards to find receiver Stephen Williams for a touchdown to cut Central Arkansas’ lead 42-31 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
Consecutive interceptions thrown from Bell, coupled with special teams turnovers gave the Bears offensive possession at the one-yard line. Central Arkansas re-padded their lead by 18 points, 49-31 for the final five minutes in the game.
SHSU’s playoff future will be determined tomorrow morning by the FCS selection committee.