Coming off its first win of the Colby Carthel era, the SFA Lumberjack football team prepares to face their archrival, Sam Houston State University, in the 94thBattle of the Piney Woods. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday in NRG Stadium in Houston.

Dating back to 1923, the event is one of the oldest active rivalry games in Texas. The Bearkats lead the series 56-35-2. The Jacks seek to end an eight-game losing streak to the Bearkats, which dates back to 2011. SFA last defeated SHSU in 2010 31-28, which was also the inauguration of the game to be played in Houston.

“We need Lumberjacks everywhere to show up to NRG Stadium next week,” said Carthel. “Let’s take it to these Bearkats.” 

Last week, the Lumberjacks won at Lamar’s homecoming game 24-17. The Jacks defense recorded four sacks and held the Cardinals to their lowest point total at home since 2017. SFA scored the go-ahead touchdown with 5:15 left in the game on a trick play as running back Da’Leon Ward took the halfback toss and threw a four-yard pass to redshirt freshman tight end Ryan Waugh. Quarterback Trae Self ran in for the two-point conversion, and the Lumberjacks held on for the victory. 

The Bearkats head to Houston after a 28-17 win over McNeese State. The victory extended the Bearkats’ record to 3-2, 2-0 in SLC and marks K.C. Keeler’s 55thwin as Sam Houston’s head coach.

Rotating between redshirt sophomore quarterbacks Eric Schmid and Ty Brock, the Bearkats’ offense ranks second in the SLC in scoring with 44 points per game. Their passing offense has 326.2 yards per game and first downs have 103 yards. Additionally, they rank third in the SLC and sixth in the nation for total offense with 505.2 yards per game. Also, they lead the conference in time of possession with 32:46 minutes per game.

On the season, Schmid is 67 of 106 for 916 yards with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Schmid also holds a 63.2 completion percentage. The Woodlands native has 36 carries for 117 rushing yards and four touchdowns. For his performance against UIW, Schmid received SLC Player of the Week honors after tallying 531 passing yards, which is the most in an FCS game this season. 

Brock is 45 of 86 with 621 yards and five touchdowns. In the win over McNeese State, the College Station native came off the bench and threw for 262 yards with three touchdowns. The leading receivers for SHSU are sophomores Dee Bowens and senior Nathan Stewart. 

Stewart, an All-SLC selection last season, leads the Bearkats in receptions and receiving yards with 27 and 452. He has also made four touchdowns. The Dallas native recently set the SLC record for career receiving yards during the Bearkats’ game against the UIW. Additionally, Stewart was ranked No. 27 in a Dave Campbell’s Texas Football article titled, “The 50 Most Important Players in Texas in 2019.”

A two-time state champion at Carthage High School, Bowens follows his teammate with 23 receptions for 315 yards and three touchdown catches. 

Kyran Jackson, a junior running back, leads Sam Houston’s ground game with 260 yards on 51 carries with one touchdown, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. The Fort Worth native is aided by sophomores Donavan Williams and Texas transfer Toneil Carter. The trio have accounted for 656 rushing yards altogether. 

Sam Houston State boasts the conference’s top defense. The university ranks first in the categories of total defense with 321.2 yards per game, scoring defense with 18 points per game, passing defense with 239.6 yards per game and rushing defense with 91.8 yards per game. 

Redshirt senior defensive back, Will Lockett, leads the Bearkats’ multiple base defense with 25 total tackles, five tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery. Junior defensive back Zyon McCollum leads the SLC in interceptions and pass breakups with three and five respectively. He also adds 17 tackles and a forced fumble. McCollum was named preseason first-team All-SLC selection. 

Hunter Brown, a redshirt senior linebacker and team captain, ranks second on the team in tackles with 20. A preseason second team All-SLC selection, the Floridian has recorded 22.5 tackles for a loss, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. Aiding Brown at linebacker is fellow preseason second teamer senior Royce See and sophomore Trevor Williams. 

Trace Mascorro, a junior defensive lineman, leads Sam Houston in tackles for a loss with 6.5. Additionally, the Refugio product has 19 total tackles and a forced fumble. 

The game will be live-streamed on ESPN+ and can be heard on Q107.7. 

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