HUNTSVILLE, TEXAS - Daniel Sams rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown but that would be just about all the offense McNeese State could feel good about as the fifth-ranked Cowboys fell 38-22 to Sam Houston State in Southland Conference action here Saturday afternoon.
Sams' td run came with 14:49 to play in the second quarter on a 29-yard scamper off a read option play that cut the Sam Houston State lead to 14-7 and appeared to get a sluggish offense some momentum.
The Bearkats used their own quarterback, Jared Johnson, in the same capacity as Sams as he ran for a school-record in rushing yards by a quarterback with 190 yards on 11 carries and two scores.
His 73-yard run following Sams' score put the Bearkats up 21-7 with 2:14 to play in the half. It came on the first play of a series after Jean Breaux connected on a 42-yard punt against the wind to pin the Bearkats back to their own 27-yard line.
McNeese (3-2, 1-1), who recorded just 133 offensive yards in the first half, had a chance to get things going with the ball first in the second half but was stuffed for three consecutive three-and-outs while the Beatkats (3-3, 2-0) tacked on two more touchdowns – a 22-yard pass from Johnson to Yedidiah Louis and a 67-yard run by Johnson to make it 35-21.
The Cowboys managed just two first downs in the third quarter with one of those coming on the second-to-last play of the period on a Kelvin Bennett 17-yard run. That rush eventually led to a 7-yard Ryan Ross score to cut the gap to 35-14 with 13:12 to play.
Facing a second-and-12 at its own 23, Johnson competed a 48-yard pass to Jalen Overstreet that helped set up a 44-yard field goal by Luc Swimberghe to make it 38-14.
The Cowboys came back and put together their best offensive drive of the game of 15 plays and 74 yards that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Sams to Khalil Thomas and with the 2-point conversion, the Cowboys cut it to 38-22 with 4:41 to play.
McNeese's attempt at an on-side kick was recovered by the Cowboys but an illegal touching against McNeese gave SHSU the ball and was able to run the clock down to the final seconds.
The Cowboys were held to 298 offensive yards – nearly 175 under their average, and 209 yards rushing – 70 under average. The Bearkats rolled up 294 yards on the ground and 486 total offensive yards.
Derrick Milton added 57 yards rushing for the Cowboys and Ross ran for 26 yards on five carries and a score. Sams completed 11 of 25 passes for 84 yards and a score while Tyler Bolfing completed 2 of 6 for five yards.
In addition to Johnson's 190 yards rushing, he also completed 15 of 29 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns.