Sam Houston clinched its first ever FCS National Championship on Sunday afternoon, and with that, so did fans, alumni and Huntsville natives.
With many not being able to travel to the game due to stadium capacity restrictions, fans and community members lined up at Bowers Stadium on a Sunday night to welcome back the Bearkats — and their brand-new trophy.
“It’s unbelievable,” former Huntsville mayor and seventh-generation native Mac Woodward said. “You don’t know what to say. I think they really deserved it. They had a great year, and they showed the Bearkat spirit and never gave up. It was great.”
Sunday’s historic victory was more than just a win for the record books. Following a challenging year for all, it was a way to bring the community together.
Among the fans lining the Bowers Stadium parking lot was Sam Houston student Tyler Erwin, who attended the game in Frisco before rushing back to see the trophy and greet the players as they arrived back in Huntsville.
“It was so awesome to see them,” Erwin said. “Their first national championship ever, everyone was excited. A lot of people showed up even though it was late at night. Just being able to see the national championship trophy ... it makes me look forward to next season when we get to put that banner on the stadium.”
Following his trip to the game, Erwin recalled his emotions when Sam Houston quarterback Eric Schmid let a ball fly for the game-winning touchdown over South Dakota State
“It was electric,” he said. “Seeing the crowd going wild, it was like a dream come true.”
While Erwin attended the game, other fans that watched it at home still came out to celebrate with the team.
“You can feel the excitement in the air,” Cheyanne White said, as a back-and-forth ‘Sam Houston’ chant roared in the background. “It’s a first-time thing for us. You could tell the excitement from the crowd, and the excitement from the boys. It’s definitely something neat to be a part of.”
“It was really exciting,” Taylor Baldwin added. “It was such a close game. For it to come down to the last few seconds, it was just really exciting to see.”
Everybody in attendance carried a smile, and the excitement was flowing as the champs pulled into the parking lot shortly after 10 p.m.
Fans brought out their camera to capture the special moment when the trophy came off the bus, with some even grabbing a photo with their favorite player. Nothing else seemed to matter except the jubilation of victory.
Now, for the first time in program history, fans can say that the Bearkats are FCS National Champions.