Defense shines as SHSU holds off Lamar 14-3
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013 22:10
To initiate their Frisco or Bust campaign, the Bearkats commenced Southland Conference play shy of domination, but managed to remain out of trouble against Lamar University.
The Cardinal defensive line stunned Sam Houston State’s (5-1) running game and kept Flanders relatively ineffective. Bell scored the game’s only touchdowns.
Lamar smothered Flanders and stifled the all-time Southland Conference rusher to a mere 83 yards – his lowest production since the August home opener against Houston Baptist.
Flanders showcased his ability to pocket protect and allow Bell to work the backfield to connect with sophomore receiver Stephen Williams for an 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter to add insurance to the Bearkats’ second half lead. Bell assumed SHSU’s sole offensive production early in the second quarter with a 45-yard touchdown run to compensate a scoreless first quarter.
However, SHSU’s offensive efficiency struggled to kick-start, recording one productive drive in four trips to the red zone.
“We had a chance to put the ball in the end zone and it didn’t happen,” Flanders said. “We could have came out and scored faster than we did.”
Senior receiver and return specialist Torrance Williams situated the offensive unit with ideal field position. Williams’ 138-yard punt return effort earned himself the SLC special teams player of the week.
SHSU head coach Willie Fritz said the offensive effort boiled down to adjusting to the defensive looks from Lamar.
“We didn’t play great offensively and a lot of that has to do with Lamar,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got a great football team. You got to win two thirds of the war each time you go out there, and today we won the defensive battle and special teams battle.”
“Defensively, I thought we played outstanding,” Fritz said. “Even though we weren’t getting points, there’s a long period of time when we were playing on our side of the field instead of (Lamar) crossing the 50-yard line.”
Cardinals’ running backs Kade Harrington’s and Payton Ploch’s joint effort averaged 2.6 yards per attempt against SHSU’s front seven. The absence of tackling issues coupled with strong leverage thwarted Lamar’s efforts to break into Bearkat territory.
Fritz attributed the defensive performance with quick adjustments to the Cardinals’ playbook.
“You don’t know what the formula will be until you get out there and start playing,” he said. “You got to find different ways to win games.”
Lighting delayed Saturday’s matchup for the second consecutive week with the Bearkats looming on closing out the conference victory. After an hour-and-a-half weather delay, with 4:30 left on the clock, SHSU’s defense held off desperate passes from junior Cardinal quarterback Caleb Berry.
Saturday’s win keeps SHSU ranked No. 2 in the FCS behind North Dakota State.
SHSU travels to Lake Charles, La., to square off against McNeese State (5-1) Saturday at 7 p.m.