HUNTSVILLE — Sam Houston’s defense came up with a clutch stop on fourth and goal to hold off a late rally in a 49-42 victory over Incarnate Word in the second round of the FCS playoffs at Bowers Stadium on Saturday.
After quarterback Eric Schmid scored what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with just over two minutes to go, the Cardinals drove to the SHSU 4. UIW quarterback Cameron Ward was stopped at the 1-yard line to preserve the win.
Running back Ramon Jefferson rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns for Sam Houston (11-0) which remained unbeaten at home in the playoffs and extended its win streak to 22 games dating back to the 2019 season. Running back Noah Smith added 95 yards and a score on the ground.
Schmid threw for 210 yards and rushed for 47, while wide receiver Jequez Ezzard had one carry for 29 yards and four catches for 60.
The Bearkats opened the game up in the second quarter after UIW (10-3) turned the ball over on downs when Ward was sacked by Trevor Williams at the SHSU 17.
Schmid hit Ezzard for gains of 13 and 29 yards around a 13-yard run by Jefferson to move into scoring position. Schmid went airborne to cap the driving, somersaulting over a defender just inside the front right pylon in the end zone as SHSU went up 31-14.
The Cardinals were able to answer right before the half to cut the lead to 10 aided by two personal foul penalties.
Sam Houston struggled to get anything going offensively to begin the third quarter, and the Cardinals took advantage. UIW scored on their first possession of the second half to cut the lead to 31-28.
The Kats finally ended their scoring drought on a 34-yard field goal by Morgan only to see UIW begin the fourth quarter with a 48-yard scoring pass to take its first lead since the opening quarter.
Sam Houston answered on a one-yard touchdown run by Jefferson and the two teams traded touchdowns including Schmid’s game winner.
The Bearkats fell behind 7-0 on the first drive of the game but settled in after that.
Smith scored on a 3-yard run to tie it, and Seth Morgan gave Sam Houston the lead with a 37-yard field goal. UIW retook the lead at 14-10, but the Kats came roaring back with a 48-yard scoring run by Jefferson, a 22-yard touchdown reception by Ezzard and Schmid’s acrobatic end zone plunge.
COURTESY SAM HOUSTON STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS