A late comeback attempt had the Sam Houston State Bearkats within striking distance of their fourth win ever over an FBS program.
The Kats came up just short, however, falling 39-31 in Saturday’s season opener at New Mexico.
"There's so much mystery in an opening game," Sam Houston State head coach K.C. Keeler said. "We went out and played hard ... but in the end, we just didn't make enough plays."
Sam Houston State trailed by 16 with just over three minutes remaining, but a touchdown run by sophomore running back Donovan Williams followed by a successful two-point conversion and onside kick recovery kept the Bearkats' chances alive.
The first play after the onside kick, sophomore quarterback Ty Brock hit senior tight end Woody Brandom on a 32-yard reverse flea-flicker to bring the Kats to the Lobos' 22-yard line. The Sam Houston State offense couldn't keep the magic going, though, and New Mexico junior linebacker Jacobi Hearn sacked Brock on fourth down to end the Bearkats' comeback bid.
"The good thing is this could be a really good football team," Keeler added. "The bad thing is I think we lost a game where, if we make plays, we win that ball game."
Despite the loss, Sam Houston State displayed reason for optimism moving forward. The Kats outgained New Mexico 558-485, with the passing game in particular showing promise.
Sam Houston State rotated Brock and fellow sophomore Eric Schmid at quarterback regularly throughout the game. Brock went 21-of-38 with 258 yards and a touchdown. Schmid went 14-of-21 for 185 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 17 yards and a score on the ground.
Neither threw an interception all night.
"You can see that they're both really talented kids and they both can win for us," Keeler said. "They both handled it really well. ... I couldn't tell you walking out if one played better than the other, but we're blessed to have two really outstanding quarterbacks that are phenomenal people."
Sam Houston State sophomore receiver Dee Bowens hauled in nine catches for 130 yards — both game-highs — and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Toneil Carter also caught a touchdown in his first game with the Bearkats.
Sam Houston State returns to action Saturday at home against Oklahoma Panhandle. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Bowers Stadium.