HOUSTON - In the 92nd edition of the Battle of the Piney Woods, Stephen F. Austin was unable to upend 11th-ranked Sam Houston State Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium in Houston, falling by a score of 27-16.
It was the seventh straight loss for SFA in the series, which also gives Sam Houston the longest win streak in the rivalry’s history.
Despite winning the turnover margin and seeing the Bearkats (4-1, 2-1 Southland) commit 13 penalties for 144 yards, the Lumberjacks (2-4, 2-2 Southland) were outgained 508 to 219 in total offensive yards.
Sam Houston State racked up 198 yards on the ground and another 325 through the air, holding SFA to just 14 rushing yards and a 3-of-16 third-down conversion rate in the pivotal Southland Conference matchup.
The Lumberjacks were forced to try and rally after spotting SHSU at 17-0 lead after one quarter. The Bearkats went in front 7-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Corey Avery. Then SFA starting quarterback Jake Blumrick (Pearland) fumbled while trying to hand the ball off to Kijana Amous (Mansfield).
The Bearkats pounced on the loose football at SFA’s 12.
A couple plays later, Sam Houston State quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe connected with Davion Davis for a 14-yard touchdown. The TD pass was Briscoe’s 85th as a Bearkat, breaking a school record.
SFA’s attempt to answer ended in a punt with Sam Houston State driving back to increase its lead on a 31-yard field goal by Tre Honshtein.
Through one quarter of play SFA had just nine offensive yards and two first downs, compared to 146 yards and nine first downs by the Bearkats.
With the offense needing a lift, the Lumberjacks defense provided it. Sophomore safety Alize Ward (San Diego, Calif.) picked off Briscoe and returned it 52 yards the other way. SFA couldn’t advance much further after the play and opted to get on the scoreboard with a 42-yard field goal by Storm Ruiz (League City).
A big fourth-down stop by the SFA defense at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter began a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive for the ‘Jacks. Brownsboro’s Tamrick Pace got behind the Bearkats defense and Blumrick connected with him for a 53-yard gain.
The Lumberjacks faced fourth-and-goal from the 1 when Blumrick took it in himself to make it 17-10 with 3:29 remaining in the half.
Sam Houston State had just enough time to tack on three more points to its lead with Honshstein good from 25 yards out as time expired for a 20-13 lead at the break.
Things tightened up in the second half as SFA stopped the Bearkats first with a turnover and later with a goal-line stand.
After the turnover on downs, SFA began from its own 1 and was able to drive it far enough for Ruiz to kick his third field goal of the game and pull the Lumberjacks without four points, 20-16, with 11:14 to play.
SFA then rolled the dice with an onside kick and recovered it. The Lumberjacks, full of momentum, drove to the Bearkats 16 after a 35-yard catch by Frank Iheanacho, a Texas A&M transfer.
Sam Houston State then made the decisive play of the game with Blumrick picked off in the end zone by Danzell Sims.
The Bearkats did not blink again with Briscoe leading Sam Houston on an 8-play, 73 yard drive that culminated in a 26-yard scoring run by Briscoe to help clinch the contest.
Blumrick finished the game with a career-high 205 passing yards on 18-of-39 completions, while Pace had the Lumberjacks’ first 100-yard receiving game of the season with six receptions.
Briscoe passed went 30-for-51 for 325 yards as Davis had 151 yards receiving on 13 catches. Avery finished with 85 rushing yards, followed by 43 from Jordan Brown.
- SFA Athletics