The Sam Houston State Bearkats did something at McLane Stadium in Waco that the program had never accomplished before: a season-opening win over a ranked opponent.The Bearkats entered the 2017 season ranked #3 in the FCS and managed to pull off a huge win over the 7th ranked Richmond Spiders 48-34.
The game was originally scheduled as a home game, but Hurricane Harvey forced a relocation from Bowers Stadium in Huntsville to the banks of the Brazos and McLane Stadium. The Baylor Bears graciously welcome both teams and their fans for free and in return the teams put on a show for the people of Waco.
Sam Houston won the toss and elected to receive, but after a 6 play 30 yard drive the Bearkats turned the ball over at the Richmond 41 yard line on a sack fumble forced recovered by Trey Moore for the Spiders. Richmond didn’t have much offensive success on their first possession being forced into a 3 and out. The Bearkats executed very nicely on back to back 45 yard gains, a Briscoe pass to Nathan Stewart followed by a run by Remus Bulmer. The drive eventually stalled leading to a 23 yard field goal by Tre Honshtein.
Richmond didn’t waste anytime pushing the ball down the field, but QB Kyle Lauletta was picked off in the end-zone by Sam Houston’s Josh Price. Once again the Bearkats marched down the field, but were forced into another Honshtein fg bringing the score to 6-0 Bearkats. Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta connected with WR Cortrelle Simpson on a 68 yard bomb on a 2nd and 9, that put the Spiders in the redzone. The Bearkat defense wasn’t able to hold the Spiders, who scored on a 3 yard pass from Lauletta to TE Garrett Hudson, but the PAT was no good bringing the first quarter to an end tied at 6.
The Bearkats were able to regain the lead early in the 2nd quarter, after QB Jeremiah Briscoe was able to score on a 41 yard run, the PAT was blocked which made the score 12-6 Sam Houston. Richmond was forced into a 3 and out on the next possession, but a bad snap lead to a safety recovered by the Bearkats Jaylen Thomas.
On their next possession, Richmond missed a 42-yard field goal and Sam Houston took advantage of the miss with a touchdown on a 45 yard pass from Briscoe to Ragan Henderson to make it 21-7 Bearkats.
Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta, who had a record-setting night for the Spiders, wasn’t finished. He responded with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Gordon Collins only to be answered again by another Briscoe touchdown pass.
The Spiders were able to cut it down to 27-20 but Sam Houston then exploded near the end of the half with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Davion Davis. The Bearkats were able to take a 41-20 lead into the locker room.
The third quarter was somewhat of a defensive affair with each team scoring just once in the period. Sam Houston was able to get into the endzone at the 11:16 mark on a 35 pass from Briscoe to Corey Avery. Richmond was finally able to move the ball down the field and the Spiders got on the scoreboard once again with a 16 yard pass from Lauletta to Caleb Drake, making the score 48-27.
Richmond struck once more in the fourth quarter, when Lauletta found Simpson who made a fantastic one handed catch and ran it for 71 yards on his way to the end-zone to bring them within two scores. The Bearkats eventually ran the ball to kill the clock before a Jaylen Price interception late sealed the game.
“First of all, these people are amazing,” SHSU head Coach K.C. Keeler said about Baylor and their hospitality, “Matt Rhule shows up at practice asking if he should bring my filmers over to film practice for you and offering us meeting space. The whole experience here was amazing. I told the kids in the locker room that these last three days of us here bonding is going to go a long way.”
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