Southland Weekly Release (PDF) | Sam Houston State Game Notes (PDF) | Conference
Big Sky Weekly Release (PDF) | Montana State Game Notes (PDF)
NCAA Playoff Bracket (PDF) | NCAA Interactive Bracket | NCAA
NCAA Division I Football Championship Quarterfinals
Friday, Dec. 7
Sam Houston St. at No. 3 Montana St., 7 p.m., CT (ESPN2/WatchESPN)
Saturday, Dec. 8
No. 5 Ga. Southern at No. 4 Old Dominion, 11 a.m., CT (ESPN/WatchESPN)
Wofford at No. 1 North Dakota St., 2 p.m., CT (ESPN3)
Illinois St. at No. 2 Eastern Washington, 5 p.m., CT (ESPN3)
All times Central
Sam Houston State at Montana State, 7 p.m.
BOZEMAN, Mont. – If Sam Houston State is to get back to Frisco and play in the national championship game for a second consecutive season, it is going to have to do it away from home. The Road to Frisco continues tonight at Montana State in a rematch of last
year’s quarterfinal game won by the Bearkats 49-13 in Huntsville.
It’s in stark contrast to last year’s playoff run when the Bearkats played nine games at home on its way to a 14-0 run before falling to North Dakota State in the title game at FC Dallas Stadium. Sam Houston has played only three regular season games this
season at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium before picking up an 18-16 victory over Cal Poly in last week’s second-round playoff game.
The Bearkats (9-3) have already played eight road games this season and are 5-3, including losses at Baylor and Texas A&M as well as a loss in the conference opener at Southland Conference co-champion Central Arkansas.
"We've built up a lot of confidence about our ability to win on the road this year," Bearkats senior offensive lineman Kaleb Hopson said. "Especially when the defense doesn't allow the other team to score, we can go out and make things happen and that just
builds confidence for the offense. Being on the road, we basically get separated from everybody, so we can focus on the game itself."
That confidence will be an important factor for the Bearkats, who have not played a road game in the playoffs since 2004 when they won at Eastern Washington before falling at Montana in the semifinals.
Now they find themselves in Big Sky country again in 2012.
Montana State and Sam Houston are meeting in the NCAA quarterfinals for the second year in a row. The Bobcats are the No. 3 seed in this year's FCS playoffs and defeated Stony Brook 16-10 last Saturday in Bozeman. Montana State brings an 11-1 record into
the game, their only loss to No. 2 seed Eastern Washington.
Sam Houston State and Montana State are meeting in the quarterfinals of the FCS Playoffs for the second consecutive season. This time the game will be played in Bozeman, Mont.
Both teams return nearly every starter from last year's game that the Bearkats won 49-13.
The Big Sky Co-Champion Bobcats are led by junior quarterback DeNarius McGhee, the Big Sky Offensive Player of the Year, and senior linebacker Jody Owens, the Big Sky Defensive MVP. Both players started in the game a year ago.
McGhee has thrown for 2,934 yards and 23 touchdowns while also rushing for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He threw four touchdowns in two games this season; against Chadron State in the season opener and against Portland State.
Owens leads the team with 90 total tackles and 57 solo stops. He has four sacks and four forced fumbles. His top performance of the season was 11 tackles against Southern Utah.
In the 2011 matchup, the Bearkats ran wild for 428 yards on the ground. Richard Sincere had 160 yards rushing and also caught a 40-yard highlight-reel touchdown pass off of a deflection. Torrance Williams rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns with a long
of 56. Brian Bell also broke off a huge 54-yard touchdown run.
McGhee was 21 of 36 passing for 272 yards and one touchdown. The highlight of the day for the Bobcats was when McGhee threw a pass to senior Elvis Akpla who made an acrobatic catch over Dax Swanson. Akpla's catch was undoubtedly one of the plays of the year
in college football.
Akpla finished the day with six catches and 100 yards receiving. The Bearkats won't have to worry about covering him this year though as he was senior in 2011.
The Bearkat special teams and defense were equally impressive. The Bearkats blocked a field goal to keep the score 21-6 at the end of the first half. In the third quarter, Brandon Closner returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. The Bearkats also had
an interception and fumble recovery in the game.
Last week, Montana State defeated Stony Brook 16-10 in the FCS Playoffs second round. The Bobcats grabbed an early lead and held on in the fourth quarter for the win. Their lone touchdown of the game came on a 69-yard touchdown pass from DeNarius McGhee
to Tanner Bleskin.
Sam Houston defeated Cal Poly last week 18-16. The Mustangs shared the 2012 Big Sky Conference championship with Montana State and Eastern Washington, who would host the Bearkats next week if both teams win their quarterfinals matchup. Eastern Washington,
which won the 2011 national championship game in Frisco, plays host to Illinois State Saturday at 5 p.m., Central.
This will be the sixth meeting between Sam Houston State and Montana State. The Bearkats hold a 3-2 edge in the series. The Bearkats defeated Montana State 23-6 in 1986 in the first ever game at Bowers Stadium. In the 1991 season opener in Bozeman, Sam Houston
was down 20-0 before rallying to win 26-23. Montana State won 52-48 in Bozeman in 1987 and 15-10 in Huntsville in 1989.