Sam Houston State football’s rush defense was lights out against Abilene Christian in Saturday’s 38-21 victory at Bowers Stadium.
The Wildcats averaged a total of 31 rushing yards on 22 attempts, averaging only 1.4 yards per carry against the Bearkats’ defense.
SHSU forced four turnovers in the win. Two of those takeaways led to two touchdowns for the Bearkats. In the second quarter, junior safety Eric Agbaroji had a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown. Redshirt freshman A.J. Davis filled in for sophomore linebacker Myke Chatman and returned a fumble for 27 yards and a score in the third quarter.
“Defense was outstanding,” Keeler said. “With [Chatman] out with a slight knee injury – he’ll be back [Saturday] – A.J. got his opportunity.”
Davis had not seen the field as much as others but was able to finish the game with not only the touchdown but leading the Bearkat defense with 6.5 total tackles and one sack.
“Anything I can do to help us win is all I care about,” Davis said.
Although the Bearkats’ defense was able to make big plays, SHSU still gave up 445 yards to the Wildcats. ACU’s sophomore quarterback Parker McKenzie finished the game with 385 yards passing and two touchdowns. Parker ranks fifth in FCS passing yards with 2,195, an average of 274.4 per game.
On the offensive of the ball, SHSU was able to find their attack in the rushing game with a total of 175 yards on 44 attempts. Relying on the ground game was the key to their success on offense.
Sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson ran for 86 yards on 15 rushing attempts. Senior running back Keshawn Hill contributed with 47 yards and two touchdowns averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
Johnson went 26-34 for 277 yards passing with one touchdown and no interceptions. Johnson’s number one target, freshman slot receiver Yedidiah Louis, had eight catches for 82 yards, averaging over 10 yards per catch.
The Bearkats’ offense totaled 452 yards and won the time of possession against the Wildcats with 30:55.
SHSU will look at a chance in controlling its own destiny in a close Southland Conference race for first, Keeler said. The Kats will take on rival Stephen F. Austin State on Saturday, who heads to Houston coming off a 27-17 defeat over Southeastern Louisiana.
The Battle of the Piney Woods will kickoff at 3 p.m. in Houston at NRG stadium.