FB: Bearkats claim outright Southland title, automatic playoff bid

Courtesy: GoBearkats.com

HUNTSVILLE — Sam Houston clinched a share of the Southland Conference title with a 27-13 victory over McNeese on Saturday at Bowers Stadium.

The Bearkats (5-0) overcame three turnovers with several impressive defensive stands and secured the SLC title outright when UIW lost to Northwestern State Saturday night.

Quarterback Eric Schmid threw for 202 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries. Jequez Ezzard led Sam Houston with 87 yards receiving and 135 all-purpose yards, while wide receiver Noah Smith hauled in four passes for 48 yards and a score and picked up another 45 yards on the ground.

The Bearkats started to put some distance between them and the Cowboys (3-4) when Schmid broke loose for a 64-yard run, the longest of his career, midway through the third quarter. Two plays later, running back Donovan Williams punched it in from two yards out to help SHSU take a 27-3 lead.

McNeese would not go away.

After the Cowboys picked off Schmid in the end zone to end a scoring threat a minute into the fourth quarter, the Kats came up with a defensive stop. Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Humphries, however, muffed the punt and McNeese turned the mistake into a touchdown to cut the lead to 27-13 at the 11:18 mark.

Schmid followed with his second interception of the game on the ensuing drive, but Sam Houston was able to force a fumble in the end zone on 4th and goal to seal the victory.

Linebacker Markel Perry had two sacks and four tackles. Linebacker Trevor Williams had a team-high eight tackes, and Darrel Hawkins-Williams, Zyon McCollum and Braiden Clopton all had seven tackles.

Ezzard set up Sam Houston’s second touchdown with a 42-yard punt return to the McNeese 47 with 6:55 left in the half. Wideout Cody Crest caught a 19-yard pass from Schmid, and an 11-yard grab by Smith got the ball down to the 10.

Three plays later running back Ramon Jefferson scored on a 1-yard run. Kicker Seth Morgan converted the extra point to put the Kats up 14-3 and added a 21-yard field goal in the final seconds of the half to make it a 14-point lead at the break.

McNeese broke the scoring ice with a 19-yard field goal following a goal-line stand by the Bearkats that began inside the 1.

Sam Houston immediately answered to take a 7-3 lead. Schmid hit found Smith for 15 yards and Ezzard for 20 yards before capping the 64-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Smith.