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FOOTBALLSam Houston State opens 2002 Southland Conference play Saturday, Oct. 12, against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks in a 2 p.m. contest at Paul Snow Stadium in Jacksonville, Ala. The Bearkats, who have won their SLC opener each of the past three years, are 6-9 in league openers since joining the Southland Conference in 1987. Last year the Bearkats defeated Northwestern State 30-14 in their SLC opener in Huntsville.
Sam Houston State and McNeese State were Southland Conference Co-Champions in 2001. SHSU earned its highest NCAA Division I-AA final national rankings (seventh) with a 10-3 overall record. The Bearkats qualified for the I-AA national playoffs for the third time since moving up to the I-AA level in 1986. Sam Houston defeated Northern Arizona in the first round to reached the I-AA quarterfinals where SHSU fell to eventual national champion Montana.
Last Saturday, Oct. 5, was an open date for Sam Houston State, giving the Bearkats a much needed breather in their rugged 2002 schedule. Since moving up to the NCAA Division I-AA level in 1986, Sam Houston State is 9-5 in games after an open date. All five of those losses after open dates, however, came in games on the road.
The Bearkats went 2-3 during the non-conference portion of their 2002 schedule. All three losses came on the road, two at the hands of nationally ranked NCAA I-AA teams and the third to an NCAA Division I-A foe. Sam Houston lost to Central Michigan 34-10 in the season opener Aug. 29; number 12 Northern Arizona 40-14 on Sept. 14 in Flagstaff; and number eight Western Illinois 41-13 on Sept. 28 in Macomb, Ill. The NAU loss knocked Sam Houston out of the 2002 rankings. SHSU ranked 12th in the 2002 preseason rankings and stood 14th nationally going into the Northern Arizona game.
Saturday, Oct. 12, marks the eighth meeting of SHSU and JSU. The Bearkats have won four games while Jacksonville State has won three. The JSU game marks only the 22nd time in 87 seasons that Sam Houston State has played a game east of the Mississippi River. Sam Houston State is 9-10-2 overall east of the "Big Muddy." This year, the Kats play three games east of the river, already having lost at Central Michigan and Western Illinois.
Since the start of the 1999 season, Sam Houston is 11-11 in its 22 road games. The 11 victories have come by an average of 14.1 points and the 11 losses by an average of 23.7 points.
With only one player who was a full-time starter in 2001 having started in the first four games of 2002, the Bearkat offense still is searching for its identity. Sam Houston led the Southland in total offense last year with 436.5 yards per game. This season, the offense is averaging 281.6 yards per game (54.8 rushing, 226.8 passing).
Injuries have hampered an offensive line that was supposed to be a team strength in 2002. Three Kat linemen - guard Billy Williams (6-3, 340), tackle Chase Denton (6-6, 318), and center Travis Maxey (6-1, 272) - were selected to the preseason All-Southland. Only Williams has started every game. Denton (knee) and Maxey (irregular heart beat) each have seen action in the last two games (Maxey 50 snaps; Denton 19 snaps). Senior tackles Jason Carr (6-3, 265), junior guard Broderick Richardson (6-2, 274) along with two sophomores comprised the rest of the starting lineup.
Young faces dot both the Bearkat running back and receiver corps as well. Three sophomores led the team in receiving. Jason Mathenia (6-0, 193), a transfer from Vanderbilt, is the team's top receiver with 26 catches for 380 yards. Corey Zeno (5-9, 183), who started five games as a redshirt freshman in 2001, has caught 18 passes for 206 yards. Vincent Cartwright (6-4, 202) has 17 receptions for 172 yards including three touchdowns. Maurice Harris (5-9, 188) leads Bearkat rushing with 57 carries for 217 yards.
Going without a sack in their first two games, the Bearkat defense has totaled 15 in the past three outings including 10 vs. Mississippi Valley State.
Senior defensive guard Kelvin Randall (6-2, 260), a first team All-SLC selection in 2001 after ranking second individually in the league in sacks with eight, picked up his first three sacks of 2002 against the Devils. Randall leads the defensive line in tackles (31). End Michael Saumell-Baston (6-0, 243) had a hand in three quarterback sacks in the Northern Arizona game.
Linebacker T. J. Dibble (6-0, 222), who leads the team in tackles (49), made 16 stops and recovered two fumbles at Western Illinois. DeJuan Davis (5-9, 195) and Mark Hughes (5-9, 164) and Carl Henderson (5-8, 188) lead the defensive secondary in tackles, each with 33.
Jacksonville State, 3-2 for the season, is 0-1 in Southland Conference play after a loss to 24th-ranked Nicholl State. Running back Rondy Rogers ranks third in Southland Conference rushing, averaging 74.8 yards per game. Anthony Mayo has passed for 581 yards and six touchdowns. Mayo passed for 183 yards and two scores in the JSU Gamecocks' 37-23 victory over Samford Saturday. Senior quarterback Rondy Rogers rolled up 405 yards total offense in the victory.
VOLLEYBALLThe Sam Houston State volleyball team plays three important Southland Conference matches this week, two at home on Friday and Saturday.
The match Friday, Oct. 11, against Southeastern Louisiana at Johnson Coliseum has been moved to a start time of 5:30 p.m. Friday is Junior High School / High School Night at Johnson for volleyball. The Bearkats play host to Nicholls State on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The match with the Colonels is "Hootie Burger Day." SHSU plays at San Marcos against Southwest Texas State on Tuesday night.
Falling to Texas-Arlington in three games last Saturday, the Bearkat volleyball team has lost four of its last five matches. Sam Houston State is 9-9 for the year and 3-4 in Southland Conference action.
Carrie Sartain leads the Bearkats with 323 kills (4.82 per game).
CROSS COUNTRYJunior Raul Villarreal produced another outstanding performance Saturday by placing 15th in the 66th annual Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree cross country meet in Stillwater, Okla. The Sam Houston State men's team placed ninth among 21 university teams in the event. Villarreal was timed at 24 minutes, 53 seconds in the 8,000 meter race.
Joe Amburn placed 36th individually with a time of 25:30. Isai Llanes was 54th at 25:54.
The Bearkat women placed 15th. Gaby Mendoza was the top Sam Houston State finisher with a time of 19 minutes, six seconds in the 5,000 meter women's race.
Next action for the Sam Houston State cross country team will be the Texas A&M Invitational in College Station on Saturday, Oct. 12.
GOLFThe Sam Houston State women's golf team competes in its second intercollegiate tournament of the 2002-03 season Monday and Tuesday as the Bearkats travel to Fayetteville, Ark., for the Arkansas Razorback Invitational. Sam Houston State's women placed ninth in their first tournament of the year in September at North Texas. Sophomore Raman Saran leads the Bearkat women's golf team with a stroke average of 77.7.
The Bearkat men's golf team returns to action on Oct. 14-15 in the Stephen F. Austin State Crown Colony Classic in Lufkin. Sam Houston State won its last tournament, the Louisiana-Monroe Fred Marz Intercollegiate in Monroe, La. Sophomore Shaun Goodwin leads the Bearkat men in stroke average with a mark of 72.9.
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