The Sam Houston State University football team will play Eastern Washington University for the first time since the 2004 quarterfinal in a two game series starting in 2013, according to gobearkats.com.
The first game will be played in Huntsville on Sept. 28, 2013, and the second game will be played in Cheney, Wash. the following season on Sept. 13, 2014. According to gobearkats.com the series was announced jointly by the two schools.
The last time they met was in the 2004 NCAA quarterfinals where the Bearkats won 35-34 in Washington. That game was voted the SHSU game of the decade in 2010, according to gobearkats.com.
Coach Willie Fritz said the game will show how good our team is at that point.
“It will be good to play a high quality FCS [football championship subdivision] program from another region of the country,” Fritz said. “We will be able to see how we stack up against a high quality opponent, especially early in the season.”
EWU closed the 2010 season as FCS champions with 11 straight wins, according to ewu.edu. They ended the 2011 season with a record of 6-5 (5-3 Big Sky Conference).
SHSU ended the 2012 season with a record of 14-1, a Southland Conference championship, a number one ranking and a trip to the national championships. After winning three home playoff games, the Kats fell to North Dakota State in the national championship game in Frisco.
Fritz is hopeful this series will help the Bearkats get their own national championship.
“I think this series will help us towards a national championship win because they [EWU] have a national championship win from 2010,” Fritz said.
According to gobearkats.com the Kats have been to the playoffs five times in school history while the Eagles have competed in eight playoff berths.
Eastern Head Coach Beau Baldwin expresses the challenge that SHSU will present to goeags.com.
“Matching up in a non-league contest versus an incredible program like Sam Houston State will be a huge challenge for us,” said Baldwin, who was EWU’s offensive coordinator in the 2004 contest. “The run they went on in 2011 was very impressive, and I know Coach Fritz will keep doing things at a high level. Home and home matchups like this will only help the overall product of FCS football.”
“I think it will be cool, they are such a high profile team,” Tim Flanders, SHSU running back, said. “It will benefit both universities.”
Sophomore Tim Flanders had 1,644 rushing yards, 24 touchdowns, and 144 points in the 2011 season.
When the two teams played in 2004 the Kats came back from being 20 points down in the fourth quarter. They won on the final play where Dustin long hit Jason Mathenia to cap an 8-play, 75-yard drive in the game’s final 43 seconds.