HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Sam Houston State’s Bearkats pounded the University of Central Arkansas defense and knocked out quarterback Nathan Dick on Saturday night.
The Bearkats (2-0) powered for 316 yards on the ground on the way to a 31-10 thumping of the Bears in the Southland Conference opener for both teams at Bowers Stadium. Dick, UCA’s senior quarterback, suffered a concussion on a late hit while sliding for yardage late in the second quarter. He left the game for good after completing 10 of 17 passes for 125 yards.
The Bears (1-2), who lost for the third straight time to the Bearkats, trailed 17-3 when Dick left the game. But they were staggering from the beginning as SHSU dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"Outstanding football team; they physically whipped us," said UCA coach Clint Conque. "When you play a team that is controlling the ball like they do, you’ve got to tackle very well and we didn’t. We didn’t block very well and we didn’t catch very well and they outcoached us. It was very disappointing."
Sam Houston, keeping the Bears off balance with a multiple offense and using their usual attacking defense, put UCA on the ropes early before knocking out Dick.
The Bearkats methodically made an opening statement that held for the game as they drove 66 yards in 10 plays on the first possession of the game. Richard Sincere, a thorn in the Bears’ side in the victory in Conway last year, ran 9 yards for the touchdown with 7:52 left.
The Bears’ Eddie Carmara missed on a 24-yard field goal attempt after a 73-yard pass from Dick to Isaiah Jackson set up the Bears in the red zone. SHSU followed a 33-yard burst by Flanders to a 42-yard field goal by Miguel Antonio for a 10-0 lead with 24 seconds left in the first quarter.
After the Bears were stuffed for a 6-yard loss on a fake punt, SHSU drove 35 yards, using an up-the-middle, 8-yard burst by Ryan Wilson to a 17-0 lead with 10:49 left in the second.
"We had some opportunities for some plays and we dropped some balls," Conque said.
Wynrick Smothers took over after Dick left the game and led the Bears to a 24-yard field goal by Carmara with 2:55 left in the second quarter.
Sincere’s 45-yard scamper on an option pitch put the Bearkats up, 24-3, with 9:57 left in the third quarter.
A 40-yard pass from Smothers to Jackie Hinton set up Hinton’s 9-year run to draw UCA within 24-10 with 5:09 left.
Flanders knocked the Bears out for good with a 23-yard touchdown scamper with 37 seconds left in the third quarter. That set the final margin.
Two SHSU backs rushed for more than 100 yards. Flanders had 199 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Sincere added 107 on 10 carries and two touchdowns. Quarterback Brian Bell rushed for 55 yards and completed nine of 13 passes for 99 yards.
The Bears, who had only 22 yards rushing the first half, ran for a net of 47 for the game. Smothers completed seven of 17 passes with one interception for 99 yards.
The biggest bright spot for the Bears was linebacker Seth Allison, who had 16 tackles (12 unassisted), four for loss.
UCA plays its third straight game on the road next weekend with a much-anticipated matchup against Arkansas State at Jonesboro.