The Sam Houston State University football team will look to pick up its ninth straight victory in The Battle of the Piney Woods against the rival Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks Oct. 5th at NRG Stadium.
The Bearkats are 55-35-2 overall and are winners of 13 of the last 15 matchups. In 2010 the site moved to NRG Stadium to help build the crowd. The relocation was successful as the historic rivalry has averaged 23,669 attendees per game since the switch.
The Bearkats are coming off a 54-21 victory last year where the offense collected 500 yards while the defense forced three turnovers including an interception returned for a touchdown to give the Bearkats a lead that they never yielded after the first quarter.
The offense was led by a trio of quarterbacks with Ty Brock getting a majority of the snaps. Brock led the group with 217 yards and two touchdowns while each of the three threw for one touchdown.
The Bearkats look to keep a similar offense rolling after keeping the starting core of their offense intact minus graduated receiver Davion Davis. Senior receiver Nathan Stewart looks to keep his hot streak going in this rivalry, averaging 107 yards per game and scoring in two out of his three contests. Stewart also has his eye on his fourth year with 1,000-plus receiving yards.
While Brock got a majority of the snaps last year, head coach K.C. Keeler has given the nod to sophomore Eric Schmid who got the start to open Southland Conference play. Schmid had a solid offseason and played on a rotation with Brock to start the year. With a near-confirmed starter, the Bearkats can start to game plan to win this installment of the rivalry that began in 1923.
Before K.C. Keeler and the Kats get to the highly-anticipated neutral-site game, the Bearkats must travel to Lake Charles for another conference match against the McNeese State University Cowboys Sept. 28 slated for a 6:00 p.m. kickoff.
Eric Schmid will get the start in SHSU’s first road test of conference play in 2019 against a Cowboys team that was picked to finish sixth in the SLC preseason poll.
MSU is coming off a loss to Abilene Christian in a low-scoring 17-10 affair. The Cowboys did have a successful start to their 2019 season, however, picking up a pair of non-conference wins against Southern University and Alcorn State.
This will be the first time the Bearkats and Cowboys clash since Nov. 5, 2016. SHSU came out on top of a shootout at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, edging out a 56-43 win.
The Kats had star quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe in the pocket throw for 504 yards and six touchdowns. Half of those scores were receptions by Nathan Stewart, the only remaining offensive weapon from that 2016 squad. Stewart had a career day in the matchup, torching the Cowboys as he racked up 268 yards on 12 catches and piled up a trio of touchdowns.
There will be a lot of unfamiliar faces on both sides for these two teams that have not faced off in three years.
The game against MSU can be streamed live on ESPN+ or heard live on the radio on 101.7 KSAM.