HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Despite trailing 14-3 at halftime the Sam Houston Bearkats rallied back in the second half, thanks to two punt return touchdowns to rally past the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 34-28 in the 90th Battle of the Piney Woods Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Bearkats in the rivalry match-up at the 53rd win in the all-time series. Sam Houston’s victory was their second straight after beginning their season 0-2 with a 2-1 record in the Southland Conference. The Lumberjacks dropped to 0-5 for the season.
The Bearkats came into Saturday with one of those prolific offenses in FCS football but were held without any points for their first five possessions.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Lumberjacks got on the scoreboard first as Zach Conque found De’Quan Ruffin for a 21-yard touchdown strike to give SFA a 7-0 lead.
After a Bearkat field goal midway through the second, the Lumberjacks scored on the ensuing possession. Zach Conque found Judah Jones for a 31-yard strike to give the ‘Jacks a 14-3 lead that they would take into the locker room.
It was the first time since 2009 that the Bearkats did not score a touchdown in the first half of a game.
The second half the Bearkats finally got the in the end zone. After SFA could not score in the opening possession of the third quarter they punted the football to Gerald Thomas who returned the ball 78 yards for the score to trim the deficit to 14-10.
On the next Bearkat possession following a SFA punt, Donavan Williams capped off 10-play 70-yard drive with a four yard touchdown run their first lead at 17-14.
The ‘Jacks would answer back With 5:41 remaining in the third period, Conque snuck his way into the end zone from one yard out to re-claim the lead for the ‘Jacks at 21-17.
Following another unsuccessful ‘Jacks possession the Bearkats added another punt return touchdown, this time from Yedidiah Louis from 53 yards away to give the Bearkats the lead again at 24-21.
Cory Avery added another score with 13:12 remaining in the football game to increase the Bearkat lead to 31-21.
Alex Del Barrio can be heard on Saturday afternoons with Matt Murphy from 3-7 pm on Sportsradio 610. Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio