Sam Houston State Runs Past Montana State

By Beacon Staff

HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Richard Sincere had a career game, and Sam Houston State dominated the battle of rushing offenses.

Sincere rushed for a career-high 160 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries as Sam Houston State piled up a season-high 428 rushing yards on Saturday in beating Montana State 49-13 in a Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal game.

“Richard was on fire,” Sam Houston State coach Willie Fritz said. “He did a sensational job of reading the option and doing what he needed to and pitching it when he needed to. He did a super job.”

The top-seeded Bearkats (13-0) will host Montana in the semifinals either next Friday or Saturday. It marks the first trip to the semis for Sam Houston since Montana defeated the Bearkats 34-13 in 2004. The Grizzlies (11-2) beat Northern Iowa 48-10 Friday night to advance to next week’s game.

Sincere caught two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown, while Torrance Williams rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on five carries for the Bearkats.

“We wanted to come out and start fast and find some way to get to next week, so we can be 1-0 again,” Sincere said. “We had a good game plan. We had different personnel packages and different people in motion to try to get them out of their game.”

Brian Bell rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on four carries for Sam Houston State, and threw for 73 yards and another score.

The Bobcats (10-3) gained just 77 yards on the ground against Sam Houston – Montana State’s second-lowest rushing total for the season.

“We have very diverse packages that we run at different times,” Fritz said. “We blitz them, we zone blitz them. We have a lot of different coverages. We got them into third-and-12 or third-and-14, and when we did that, we did a good job of mixing things up.”

DeNarius McGhee was 21 of 36 for 272 yards and a touchdown and Elvis Akpla caught six passes for 100 yards for Montana State, which reached the FCS quarterfinals by defeating New Hampshire 26-25 last week with the help of a blocked extra point in the final seconds.

Sam Houston State blew the game open in the third quarter with 21 points. The Bearkats have now outscored their opponents 177-24 in the third quarter this season.

“We played great in the third quarter all season long,” Fritz said. “We did a good job coming in making adjustments and coming out and executing them. I don’t think we started the game as fast we wanted to. . We played lights out from (the third quarter) on.”

The Bobcats found the end zone to start the second half, as McGhee’s 7-yard pass to Everett Gilbert capped a 77-yard drive. But the Bearkats’ Brandon Closner returned the kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown to make it 28-13, and Sam Houston added two more scores in the third quarter.

“The big play was the kickoff return,” Montana State coach Rob Ash said. “We came out and got us a good drive and scored, and then they got the kickoff return that was the big play because it instantly changed the score back to a big lead.”

Williams made it 49-13 with a 21-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Montana State had chances early but couldn’t finish off drives, having two drives stall inside Sam Houston State’s 10.

Montana State struck first after Na’a Moeakiola intercepted a Bell pass at the Sam Houston 34. Jason Cunningham connected on a 27-yard field goal for the Bobcats.

Sam Houston State responded with an 8-play, 81-yard drive that included Sincere’s 56-yard run, and took the lead on Bell’s 11-yard touchdown to Grant Merritt.

Montana State reached the Bearkats’ 5-yard line early in the second quarter but settled for Cunningham’s 22-yard field goal. Bell then ran 54 yards for a score to make it 14-6 Sam Houston State.

Cunningham missed from 46 yards midway through the second quarter, and Sam Houston extended its lead to 21-6 on Bell’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Sincere that was tipped by Moeakiola.

Cunningham’s 39-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Preston Sanders as time expired in the half, leaving it at 21-6.

“It was 21-6, but it could have been a much different score,” Ash said. “We had four scoring opportunities, and we had to settle for six points. Give credit to this Sam Houston defense because they came up big in those red zone situations. On the other side of the coin, when they got down there, they got touchdowns.”