Flanders rushes for 280 yards and two touchdowns in Bearkats’ win
Finally an Eastern Washington – Sam Houston football game wasn’t decided on the final play or with the heartbreak of a comeback that fell short.
In Saturday’s 49-34 victory at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas in contest delayed 90 minutes by a thunder storm, the Bearkats trailed just once. They got the expected big game from Timothy Flanders and improved their record to 4-1, and 3-0 versus the Eagles.
“They did a good job – they have a very good offense,”head coach Beau Baldwin said . “They’ve put up a lot of points on a lot of people."
In two previous games Sam Houston won 35-34 with an extra point with no time on the clock in an FCS quarterfinal playoff game in Cheney in 2004.
Last year the Bearkats held on just long enough to win 45-42 in an FCS semifinal game that sent the victor to the national championship and a contest they led 35-0 at half.
Flanders, the all-time leading rusher in the Southland Conference with exactly 5,000 yards, finished with 280 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries . Richard Sincere added 98 yards on eight carries. As a team, Sam Houston averaged 8.3 per rush and finished with 556 yards overall.
No. 6 Eastern lost for the second straight week and fell to 2-2 as they begin Big Sky Conference play Saturday at Roos Field against Weber State with a 4:05 p.m. kickoff.
It took just six plays for the teams to score 13 points on their opening possessions. Sincere raced 51 yards just 1 minute and 1 second into the game capping a 78-play drive. Demitrius Bronson carried from two yards out with 12:42 to play but Kevin Miller’s kick failed and SHSU led 7-6.
After stopping Sam Houston on their next possession, Eastern got its only lead of the game as Vernon Adams found Ashton Clark for a 33-yard touchdown catch in a drive that went 53 yards in just 1:56 and the Eagles were on top 13-7.
Brian Bell’s 8-yard run made it 14-13 for the Bearkats just 53 seconds into the second quarter and they never trailed after that because Adams had his first down pass intercepted on the next possession by De’Antre Loche who returned the ball 42 yards for a score and a 21-13 lead.
Adams redeemed himself with a 59-yard touchdown connection to Cooper Kupp with 3:39 remaining in the half to draw the Eagles to within 21-20 but Torra Williams’ 18-yard touchdown reception from Brian Bell 21 seconds before intermission gave SHSU a 28-20 lead.
Eastern’s first possession of the second half went nowhere and Flanders made the Eagles pay quickly with his 60-yard scoring run on a third and one play and Sam Houston led 35-20.
The Eagles played a futile game of catch up the rest of the way. Bronson’s second touchdown trimmed it to 35-27 with 9:08 to play in the third, but SHSU scored the next two – Williams on a 50-yard pass play at the 7-minute mark and Flanders a 12-yard carry with 6:10 to play for a 49-27 lead – before Quincy Forte closed it with a 62-yard catch and run with 5:20 to go.
Adams had 390 yards of total offense for the Eagles, but was sacked twice. He finished the game 19-of-31 for 355 yards and three touchdowns – and the costly pick-six.
Cory Mitchell, from nearby Katy, Texas, just two hours south of Huntsville, led the Eagles with 102 yards on five catches. Clark had six catches for 93 yards and a score. Forte led the ground game for Eastern with 56 total yards on 13 carries.
Defensively, cornerback T.J. Lee III had 11 total tackles while Allen Brown added 10 with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and pass broken up.
Baldwin was able to quickly see that the loss was a whole-team breakdown.
“It’s a whole team issue – offense, defense and special teams,” Baldwin said. “We have to find little things that we need to improve on, and there is plenty.”
With the Sam Houston loss, coupled with their 33-21 loss at FBS Toldeo, Sept. 14, Eastern lost for the second straight time for the first time since 2011 where they started the season 0-4.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.