The Sam Houston State University football team’s chances at a Southland Conference title have come to an end with a 31-28 loss against the Northwestern State University Demons who came into the matchup against the Kats with a 2-8 record. Following the upset, the Bearkats’ chance of an FCS playoff bid hang by a thread.
“I’ve done this a long time,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “I don’t think I can remember one that hurts as bad as this one does. We put ourselves in a position to get back in this thing and [if] we won out we’d be conference champs and make the playoffs.”
The Bearkats have struggled all year at the quarterback position. On several occasions head coach K.C. Keeler has spoken on the issue. With sophomore quarterback Eric Schmid breaking his hand against the McNeese University Cowboys on Sept. 28, the Bearkats went back to sophomore quarterback Ty Brock who played less than ideally all season long. With one game remaining, Brock has nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
On the other side of the ball, the defense has been one of the best in the country with seniors Royce See and Hunter Brown leading the way. See has been a force to be reckoned with causing five turnovers and getting to the quarterback four times, and Brown leads the team with 41 solo tackles so far on the season. The Bearkats gave up 31 points to NSU in the upset— the second highest total this year (and the highest by a Southland Conference opponent).
During the week the Bearkats also lost senior wide receiver Nathan Stewart. Stewart was suspended indefinitely by the team when he missed a mandatory team function.
“I’m pretty strict about everyone being at everything that’s mandatory,” Keeler said. “He was suspended for it.” When asked about a return next week, Keeler was brief: “He’s gonna have to talk to the leadership council about that.”
Stewart leads the team with six touchdowns and 779 yards and is in the Top-10 in the conference in multiple statistics. This is Stewart’s fourth and final year of what has been one of the most impressive collegiate careers of any receiver in FCS history, but it looks like he may not get to finish it on the field.
With one game left in the season and SHSU being eliminated from a conference championship, the Bearkats will need a miracle to get an FCS playoff bid. While the chances of playing for pride are greater than fighting for a playoff spot, hope is there for the Kats in a must-win final game (however bleak it may be).
The Bearkats will close the regular season with Fan Appreciation Day against the Houston Baptist University Huskies Nov. 23 with kickoff slated for noon at Bowers Stadium.