The longest active home winning streak in the FCS came to an end as the Sam Houston State University Bearkats lost to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks 24-23.
In front of a crowd of 5,375, SHSU’s offense struggled to consistently move the ball downfield. SHSU had a handful of scoring opportunities, but penalties and offensive mistakes caused a number of crucial drives to stall out deep in UND territory. Less than three minutes into the game, senior linebacker Hunter Brown was flagged for unnecessary roughness that propelled an opening-drive touchdown for the Hawks.
The Bearkats kept the game close in the first half thanks to a touchdown from sophomore running back Kyran Jackson. He finished the night with 16 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns.
The passing game did not see the same success as the ground game, however. Junior quarterback Mike Dare was sacked five times, four of which came in the second half. Bearkats head coach K.C. Keeler talked about Dare’s decision making throughout the night.
“We just can’t take the sacks like we are taking,” Keeler said. “Mike [Dare] has to throw the ball away, and that’s the biggest thing that we have to get through his head. One, two, the ball has to get out of there.”
Aside from the pair of rushing touchdowns, the only other scoring for SHSU was courtesy of senior kicker Tre Honshtein’s three field goals (41 yards, 34 yards and 28 yards).
The Fighting Hawks took the lead in the fourth quarter with 4:44 remaining in the game on a clutch touchdown on fourth and goal. The late score put UND on top 24-23. SHSU got the ball back but ended up turning it over on downs with only one timeout left. The Hawks were able to pick up a first down conversion that put the game on ice to beat the Kats by one point.
Bearkats head coach KC Keeler talked about how this early-season loss will impact the team moving forward.
“As I told the players, your season is not over, it’s just starting,” Keeler said. “That’s a good football team. They came in and made one more play than we did. You have to give them all of the credit in the world. I thought they did a really good job. We don’t see their brand of football much.”
The Bearkats open conference play Saturday at 3 p.m. in Thibodaux, La. when they face off against the Nicholls State University Colonels.