Bearkats upset No. 7 Nicholls in statement victory

Photo courtesy of Leila De La Cruz

The No. 12 ranked Sam Houston Bearkats took down the No. 7 Nicholls State University Colonels in dominating fashion with a 71-17 victory at Bowers Stadium.

It is the first win against a top 10 ranked opponent in the country since the 2017 matchup against the University of Richmond, where the Bearkats came out on top 48-34 and the first time to beat a top 10 opponent at home since No. 7 Montana State University in the 2011 Playoffs with a 35-13 victory.

Early on, the Colonels had control of the game as an early interception by junior quarterback Eric Schmid in the first quarter of play quickly turned into the first score of the game for Nicholls. It came via a 14-yard passing touchdown from senior quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. to senior wide receiver Dai’Jean Dixon to put Nicholls up 7-0 early in the first quarter.

With 1:26 left to go in the opening quarter of play, Schmid redeemed himself from the interception by throwing a 14-yard passing touchdown to graduate wide receiver Jequez Ezzard to tie it at 7-7. From there, the scoring would open up in the favor of Sam Houston. The Bearkats would not score less than 20 points in each quarter for the rest of the game, scoring 23 in the second, 20 in the third and 21 in the fourth quarter of play.

Bearkats head coach K.C. Keeler talked about the “playoff” type mindset heading into the game.

“It’s a playoff game every weekend and that’s the way you have to approach this season,” Keeler said. “There’s six games. I know that we have never lost a home playoff game so obviously our mindset is win the conference, our mindset is getting into the playoffs, our mindset is also having a pretty high seed. We had the twos in there at the end and the twos played great and they put some points on the board. Wasn’t like we tried to run it up but you know I have a pretty good football team and I think they played pretty well today.”

With 8:44 left in the first half, Bearkats senior linebacker Jahari Kay intercepted a pass and took it back to the house after it bounced out of a receiver’s hands for a 24-yard score to make the score 24-7. For Kay, it was one of the most exciting plays he has had at Sam Houston since his play in JUCO ball.

“Big play, big play,” Kay said. “I don’t know, it just happened. I was excited, I didn’t know what to do. My teammates came around me and it felt good.”

For the second week in a row, Schmid would throw for over 350 yards. Schmid would total 366 passing yards on 21-of-32 passing, as well as six touchdowns and two interceptions. In comparison, the 366 yards for Schmid alone was more than the Colonels 337 total yards in the game.

Schmid was pleased with the way his team fought back against an opponent like the Colonels.

“The way we battled with adversity in the beginning because I think we had three, three-and-out drives to start the game and we just came back and scored 71 points,” Schmid said. “I know the defense had two defensive touchdowns but we fought back and chipped away just like last week and made some big plays.”

During the game, the defense stepped up in a big way, forcing four total turnovers, three of which were fumbles forced by the Bearkats defense. The only other turnover was the interception by Kay late in the first half. Sam Houston would score 28 of their 71 points off of turnovers in the game.

Leading the way on defense was Kay with 2.5 sacks on the five tackles, two forced fumbles and the one interception that was returned for the 24-yard touchdown.

Kay talked about the focus of the defense with such a huge task of taking down the No. 7 team in the country.

“The biggest focus was stopping zero [Scott Jr.], stopping the run,” Kay said. “We know that if you can’t stop the run you have no defense so that’s what we were focused on. We were focused on stopping the run, stopping zero. You know zero is a good player and last week that 38 [points], you know, all week we talked about the 38 points and we came out and did our thing.”

Up next for Sam Houston is a matchup at 6 p.m. on March 20 at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont, TX, as the Bearkats take on the Lamar University Cardinals.

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