Where’s the rust?
With teams having over 450 days between games, the defense is sure to have the advantage for the first few games while the offense shakes off the rust, right? Someone forgot to tell that to Sam Houston and Southeastern Louisiana.
The two teams combined for 1,208 yards with the Bearkats winning the battle between top 20 teams, 43-38, in the best game of the weekend.
SHSU quarterback Eric Schmid is happy to be healthy this year and was incredible completing 25-of-40 passes for 428 yards and two touchdowns. The redshirt junior from The Woodlands High School added 88 yards rushing.
Ramon Jefferson was huge on the ground for the Bearkats gaining 139 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries for an incredible 11.6 yards per carry average.
Chandler Harvin was Schmid’s favorite target Saturday catching seven passes for 118 yards including a tough 46-yard reception in the fourth quarter with the Kats clinging to a 40-38 lead.
In a game that featured so much offense, it was the Bearkats defense that made a huge stand late in the game to seal the victory.
Senior defensive back Tristin McCollum made a remarkable play for the Kats defense with SLU facing a fourth down and two at the SHSU 22-yard line with 2:24 left in regulation.
McCollum flew across the field to stop the Lions running back one-yard short of the line to gain and give the ball back to the Bearkats offense.
SHSU will need the same offensive production in two weeks when they host No. 9 Nicholls.
The biggest question facing UIW entering its spring opener was whether freshman quarterback Cameron Ward would be able to fill the large shoes left by his predecessor, Jon Copeland.
The answer was a resounding yes.
The Columbia High School product completed 24-of-35 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns with an amazing 11 different receivers catching a pass from Ward.
Ward’s play was one key to the Cardinals big first half which led to a 48-20 road upset over No. 19 McNeese.
With the quarterback question answered, UIW seems prepared to make another run at the FCS playoffs.
Running back Kevin Brown gained 117 yards on 10 carries for a Cardinals attack that gained 209 total rushing yards against the Cowboys.
In a rarity for the UIW defense during the Eric Morris era, the Cardinals did not force a turnover in the contest.
Despite not forcing a turnover, the defense was solid holding McNeese to 373 total yards of offense. This is a marked improvement for a squad that allowed 462.8 yards and 35 points per game in 2019.
The Cardinals will be tested this spring games against No. 18 Southeastern Louisiana, No. 9 Nicholls, and No. 17 Sam Houston remaining.
Despite a tough upcoming schedule, UIW showed they could be a candidate for the Southland Conference title or an at-large bid this season.
Dominating ground attacks
The Cru gained 255 yards on the ground while averaging 5.5 yards per carry in a 52-7 win at home over Southwestern.
Quarterback Tommy Bowden was superb once again leading the UMHB attack with 112 yards rushing on nine carries.
The Cru defense was equally impressive against the triple-option attack limiting the Pirates to 20 rushing yards on 37 carries.
UMHB had a similar formula during its last title run in 2018 when they averaged 238.7 yards rushing per game while holding its opponents to a mere 82.4 yards rushing per game.
Another top team in the American Southwest Conference was equally dominant on the ground Saturday.
Texas Lutheran gained 384 yards rushing with an impressive 6.2 yards per carry average in a 24-3 win at home over Sul Ross State.
Senior running back from College Station, Texas, Chris Monroe, led the charge with 176 yards rushing on 21 carries.
DaKory Willis added 78 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for the Bulldogs, who only attempted 12 passes on offense in the contest.
The Bulldogs defense held the Lobos to only 115 yards rushing on 36 carries while holding Sul Ross State off the scoreboard over the final three quarters.
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