Bearkats, Hill win 89th Battle of the Piney Woods

Senior running back Keshawn Hill rushed for four touchdowns in the Sam Houston State 42-28 win over rival Stephen F. Austin State in the 89th Battle of the Piney Woods at NRG stadium in Houston.

Hill rushed 14 times for 156 yards, including rushing touchdowns of 59, 31, 3 and 32 yards to solidify the ground game for SHSU.

“I give [the offensive line] all the credit,” Hill said. “If you see some of those runs, it’s wide open.”

The Bearkats rushed a total of 36 times for 345 yards. Sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore running back Jalen Overstreet added a 59-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

“Our offense is built on taking what [the defense] gives us,” Johnson said when referring to the SFA defense leaving the middle of the field open. “When we got guys like Keshawn that can take it 50 or 60 [yards], it just makes it easy on me and the rest of the offense.”

Hill is now one of four SHSU running backs to ever record four rushing touchdowns in a single game.

“Last year I had a good game and I wasn’t even a starter, and I scored twice,” Hill said. “Coming into this game I felt like there was something special I could do, and I scored four touchdowns.”

The Bearkat defense stood strong throughout the game, forcing two turnovers, including an interception by junior cornerback Mikell Everette to seal the victory for SHSU. Everette also had a fumble recovery that he returned 42-yards to set up a Bearkat touchdown on the very next play. The Kat defense also had 19 tackles for loss for 40 yards, including five from sophomore defensive end Mouf Adebo.

“I feel like we just did what we were coached to do,” senior safety Michael Wade said.

The Bearkats’ game plan going into the game was to stop SFA senior running back Gus Johnson, who is the Southland Conference leading rusher. Although Johnson rushed for 148 yards, he only had one touchdown. SFA Quarterback Zach Conque rushed 18 times for 98 yards and two touchdowns for the Lumberjacks.

This was the first Piney Woods game for both SHSU head coach K.C. Keeler and SFA head coach Clint Conque.

“[The rivalry] was well beyond what I thought it was going to be,” Keeler said. “I was really conscious all week trying to keep our kids sort of level minded. We’ve probably got after them this week harder than any week we’ve coached them because we knew that going into this game there was going to be a lot of emotions.”

The Bearkats are now 52-35-2 all time in the BOTPW rivalry.

SHSU’s playoff chances are still alive as the Bearkats are tied for first place in the SLC with help from Abilene Christian defeating Central Arkansas on Saturday in Plano.

The Bearkats go on the road this weekend to face Incarnate Word in San Antonio. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.

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