Southeastern Louisiana at Sam Houston State FCS Football 2014 Playoffs 1st Round Game Breakdown

George Hammond


Southeastern Louisiana at Sam Houston State, Saturday, 2 p.m.

These two are no strangers as both are members of the Southland Conference, but they didn’t meet this year. They did, however, meet in the second round of the playoffs last year when Southeastern Louisiana won a 30-29 thriller.

Sam Houston State (8-4, 7-1) received the league’s automatic bid based on the conference’s tie-breaker over Southeastern Louisiana (9-3, 7-1). They did have seven common opponents this fall, but it’s difficult to ascertain any differences. For instance, Sam Houston State beat Stephen F. Austin but lost to Northwestern State while SE Louisiana beat Northwestern State and loss to Stephen F. Austin. To display how close they might be, Sam Houston State beat Houston Baptist 76-0; SE Louisiana beat Houston Baptist 76-7.

Sam Houston State qualified for the playoffs in KC Keeler’s first year as head coach. Keeler is the former Delaware coach who was fired after the 2012 season. The Bearkats are one of only three teams that have earned berths in FCS postseason play each of the last four seasons. They started slow this fall (1-3 start) but have won five straight contests. Considering the Bearkats returned only seven players who started last year, that’s understandable. Their attack is led by sophomore quarterback Jared Johnson and senior running back Keshawn Hill who had 242 yards rushing on 32 carries against Central Arkansas in the regular season finale.

This will not be a defensive struggle. Southeastern Louisiana is ranked third nationally in scoring offense (42.2 points per game) while Sam Houston State is 14th (37.7 ppg). The key might be the Lions’ rushing defense (15th nationally) against Sam Houston State’s sixth-ranked rushing attack. Last year, the Bearkats jumped out to a 21-7 lead but SE Louisiana rallied behind standout quarterback Bryan Bennett. The returning Southland Player of the Year threw for 286 yards against Sam Houston State last year and completed the winning 1-yard TD pass with just 36 seconds remaining.

The game figures to be close and a high-scoring affair. SE Louisiana has the experience, but the Bearkats are playing at home. That might be the difference.

Projected Score: Sam Houston State 38, Southeastern Louisiana 34


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