Round and round it goes, when it stops nobody knows.

The quarterback carousel continues at Sam Houston State, and this time junior Brett Hicks is finally getting his chance to lead the Bearkat offense.

With Wade Pate out for the season with a bum shoulder and Phillip Daugherty failing to lead a scoring drive against SMU last week, SHSU head coach Todd Whitten decided to put the ball in Hicks’ hands for tonight’s game at Missouri State.

The Bandera product came off the bench to guide the Bearkats to a couple of touchdowns in the second half of a 45-14 loss to the Mustangs last week.

“He has never really had an opportunity here, so I just wanted to give him a chance,” Whitten said of Hicks after practice Thursday. “He played pretty well in the second half and took care of the football. I was really pleased with that. It’s just his turn to get a chance, and I think he will do really well.”

Heading into the SMU game, Hicks had only attempted 12 passes (he completed all of them) in three seasons at SHSU, all coming in mop-up duty.

After Daugherty threw a pair of interceptions in the first half, Hicks took over in the third quarter with the Mustangs leading 35-0. Hicks completed 16-of-26 for 134 yards and helped set up a couple of D.D. Terry touchdown runs.

Thanks to his performance, Hicks is now SHSU’s fourth starting quarterback in two years.

“I can’t even begin to describe how excited I am,” Hicks said. “It’s been a long road, and I’m an impatient person. I’ve been waiting for this day a long time, and it is important for me to get the job done. I’m confident in my abilities, but it was important for me to play well last week to let my teammates get confidence in me.

“Hopefully we can carry that over into this game.”

The Bearkats were in this same position a year ago when starter Noah Allen was suspended for the season after failing an NCAA drug test two games into the season. Pate started against Texas Tech before Daugherty replaced him for the Southland Conference opener against Northwestern State.

Daugherty remained the starter for the first five league games, but Pate won the job back for the final two contests after coming in to rally SHSU to a win over Southeastern Louisiana.

The offense was up and down and never got in a groove as SHSU finished a disappointing 3-7.

“Sometimes (changing quarterbacks) might serve as a distraction because you don’t know how he sees you run your routes, so it could change things,” SHSU wide receiver Michael Malone said. “But we have caught passes from Brett in practice. We might just need to get our timing down, but that will come in the game. We believe Brett can do a good job, and we have plenty of players that can make plays to win the game.”

Hicks’ opportunity couldn’t come at a more crucial time for SHSU. Today’s game, which kicks off at 6 p.m., is the final chance to see where the team stands heading into Southland Conference play.

Missouri State is the only Division I-AA team the Bearkats face before opening league play on the road at Northwestern State on Oct. 7. The Bearkats weren’t really tested in a big win over Division II Arkansas-Monticello in the opener, then lost to SMU, and all that’s left before clashing with the Demons is No. 8 Texas next week in Austin.

So is Hicks feeling any added pressure?

“No, I think we all know what we are capable of doing,” said Hicks, who led Bandera to the Class 3A state championship in 2002. “Our first game was against a Division II, then we had SMU and have to face Texas, so this game is definitely important. I do think playing a Division I-AA will give us a better barometer of where we are as a team.”



Notes: Today’s game marks the second time the Bearkats have faced Missouri State in Springfield, Mo. The Bears won a 33-31 thriller in 2004. Last season, the teams were supposed to play at Bowers Stadium, but Hurricane Rita forced the contest to be canceled. ... The Bearkats have lost eight consecutive road games dating back to 2004, when SHSU lost to Montana in the semifinal round of the playoffs. During the streak, the Bearkats have committed 25 turnovers, 15 interceptions and 10 fumbles.

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