Weekly Release (PDF)
2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 at Noon, CT
at FC Dallas Stadium; Frisco, Texas
ESPN2: Dave Neal, Jay Walker and Cara Capuano
Dial Global: John Tautges and Terry Donahue
Championship Game News & Notes
Sam Houston State Draws Rematch with Bison in Title Game: Sam Houston State (11-3) returns to NCAA Division I Football Championship Game for the second consecutive season and will face defending champion North Dakota State Saturday at FC Dallas
Stadium in Frisco, Texas. The Bison beat the Bearkats 17-6 in the title game last year. The game is sold out for the second consecutive year. Kickoff for the game will be at noon, CT, on ESPN2 and WatchESPN as well as the Dial Global Radio Network. Dave Neal,
Jay Walker and Cara Capuano will have the call on television, while John Tautges and Terry Donahue will describe the game for a national radio audience.
Southland History in Division I Playoffs: Southland Conference schools own a 51-54 all-time record in the Division I playoffs, highlighted by McNeese State’s 14 all-time appearances. The eight teams currently in the Southland account for
32 wins in the playoffs. The Bearkats are 9-5 in six playoff appearances and their .643 win percentage is the best among current league teams. Sam Houston’s appearance in the championship game is the eighth by a Southland team. It is the first conference team
to make back-to-back title game appearances. The Bearkats’ semifinals appearance was the 15th by a Southland Conference team. Sam Houston has reached the semifinals in three of the last nine seasons. Southland teams also reached the semifinals in 1982, 1984,
1986, 1987, 1989, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2011. Prior to last season, Southland teams had not played for a national championship since McNeese State in 2002. Former league member Louisiana-Monroe is the only Southland team to win the NCAA
Division I championship, winning the title in 1987.
Southland is Host for Division I Title Game: The Southland Conference, in conjunction with the City of Frisco and Hunt Sports Group, is the host of the 2013 NCAA Division I Football Championship Game, which will be played Saturday at FC
Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which has been home to the league since 2006. This marks the third year for the game to be played in Frisco. Last year, North Dakota State defeated Southland entrant Sam Houston State 17-6, while Eastern Washington came from
behind to score three times in the final 17 minutes on its way to a 20-19 win over Delaware. Both winners in Frisco have been first-time champions.
Frisco Remains Destination for Title Game Through 2016: The NCAA announced Dec. 19 that it has agreed to a three-year extension with Frisco, Texas, for the Division I Football Championship title game to be held at FC Dallas Stadium, which
has hosted the previous two FCS championship games. The extension will keep the championship game in Frisco through 2016. This year’s championship game, featuring a rematch of last year’s title contest between North Dakota State and Sam Houston State, marks
the second consecutive time it will be a sold-out FC Dallas Stadium, which holds more than 20,500 spectators. It will be only the second time since 1995 and 1996 that more than 20,000 people have attended the championship game in back-to-back years. At the
end of the extension, Frisco will have hosted the title game six times, which is more than any other city other than Chattanooga, Tenn., which hosted the event during a 13-year span from 1997-2009.
Sam Houston State, North Dakota State Join Elite Group: North Dakota State and Sam Houston State are the seventh and eighth teams in NCAA Division I FCS history to earn a berth into the NCAA Division I Football Championship Game in consecutive
seasons. The other teams are Eastern Kentucky (1979-1982), Georgia Southern (1985-86, 1988-90; 1998-2000), Marshall (1991-93), Youngstown State (1991-94), Montana (1995-96, 2000-01, 2008-09) and Appalachian State (2005-07).
Fourth Championship Rematch in FCS History: When North Dakota State and Sam Houston State meet Jan. 5 in Frisco it will be a rematch of last year’s championship game. The Bison beat the Bearkats 17-6 last year in the championship game last
year in Frisco. There have been three previous rematches in the FCS championship game since it started in 1978. Youngstown State and Marshall played three consecutive season from 1991 through 1993, making the 1992 and 1993 games rematches. Montana and Marshall
played in the 1995 and 1996 games.
1991 Youngstown State 25, Marshall 17
1992 Marshall 31, Youngstown State 28
1993 Youngstown State 17, Marshall 5
1995 Montana 22, Marshall 20
1996 Marshall 49, Montana 29
2011 North Dakota State 17, Sam Houston State 6
2012 North Dakota State vs. Sam Houston State
Sam Houston’s Win at Eastern Washington was League’s 51st Playoff Victory: Sam Houston State’s 45-42 victory at Eastern Washington Dec. 15 was the 51st all-time playoff victory for the Southland Conference, which improved to 51-54 all-time
in the playoffs.
First-Time Champions: The last four teams to win the NCAA Division I Football Championship, including both winners in Frisco, have been first-time champions. After Appalachian State won three consecutive championships between 2005 and 2007,
Richmond began a four-year run of first-time winners, including Richmond in 2008, Villanova in 2009, Eastern Washington following the 2010 season and North Dakota State last year. Sam Houston State could continue that trend by winning its first title in a
rematch with the Bison this year.
Sam Houston State in the Playoffs: Sam Houston State is making its sixth appearance in the Division I playoffs and its second consecutive appearance in the championship game. Last year marked the Bearkats’ first appearance in the title game
after a semifinal appearance in 2004. That came after a quarterfinal berth in 2001 and first-round appearances in 1986 and 1991. Sam Houston improved to 9-5 in the Division I playoffs after wins over Cal Poly (18-16) in a second-round game in Huntsville, Texas;
Montana State (34-16) in the quarterfinal round in Bozeman, Mont.; and Eastern Washington (45-42) in the semifinals in Cheney, Wash., for the right to play in the title game. The Bearkats’ 64.3 win percentage is the best among current league members. The Bearkats
were 3-1 in the playoffs last season and have a 6-0 all-time record at home in NCAA Division I playoff games. Sam Houston has won its last 14 games at Bowers Stadium, where it was perfect in just four home games this season. The Bearkats are 3-5 away from
Bowers in the playoffs all time, including a 3-4 record in true road games to go with last year’s neutral-site loss in the national championship game. The game at Montana State was the first road playoff game for Sam Houston since 2004. After winning a 54-24
decision against Western Kentucky in the first round that year, the Bearkats won 45-34 at Eastern Washington before a semifinal loss at Montana (34-13).
Sam Houston State Swept Big Sky Co-Champions: With playoff wins against Cal Poly, Montana State and Eastern Washington, Sam Houston State swept the three Big Sky Conference champions. The three times finished 7-1 in league play to share
this year’s title. The Big Sky has been a nemesis of Southland Conference teams in the playoffs, holding a 25-15 edge in playoff games. Sam Houston’s win at Eastern Washington was just the fifth playoff win (5-21) in a Big Sky stadium. Prior to the quarterfinal
game at Montana State, a Southland team had not won a road playoff game against a Big Sky team since 2004 when Sam Houston won 35-34 at Eastern Washington. Sam Houston State is 7-2 all-time against Big Sky teams in the playoffs and has won its last five, including
last year’s co-champions Montana State and Montana.
About the Bearkats: Sam Houston State is back in the championship game for the second consecutive season after falling 17-6 to North Dakota State last year in Frisco. That was the first trip to the title game for the Bearkats, who are making
their sixth playoff appearance this season. Sam Houston swept all three Big Sky Conference co-champions – Cal Poly (18-16), Montana State (34-16) and Eastern Washington (45-42) – to get back to the championship game. The Bearkats defeated Stony Brook, Montana
State and Montana to reach the title game a season ago. Sam Houston, which is unseeded but ranked No. 5 in both FCS polls, is 11-3 overall and shared the Southland Conference championship with Central Arkansas at 6-1. Sam Houston, which is 25-4 in the last
two years, is 31-9 under third-year head coach Willie Fritz.
More about the Bearkats: Sam Houston State is averaging 41.9 points and 463.4 yards of offense per game, while allowing 20.2 points and 325.8 yards per game on defense. The Bearkats average 279.2 rushing yards and 184.1 passing yards per
game. Running back Timothy Flanders, the two-time Southland Conference Player of the Year and a two-time All-American, has 1,589 yards on 269 carries. He averages 5.9 yards per run and 113.5 yards per game. He is coming off his 25th career 100-yard game, a
231-yard performance at Eastern Washington. It was his second-best rushing effort of his career. He ran for 287 yards in the last year’s semifinal win against Montana. Quarterback Brian Bell is completing 61.6 percent of his passes (178 of 289) for 2,460 yards
and 24 touchdowns and has thrown only seven interceptions. Bell ran for two of his six rushing touchdowns and threw for another against Eastern Washington. Trey Diller is the team’s top receiver with 881 yards and four touchdowns on 58 receptions. Chance Nelson
paces the Bearkats with nine touchdown receptions to go with 662 yards on 33 catches. Darnell Taylor has 100 tackles to lead Sam Houston. His twin brother Darius Taylor is the team leader with 16 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Three different players have
four interceptions, including Bookie Sneed who has returned two for touchdowns.
About the Bison: North Dakota State is in the Division I playoffs for the third consecutive season and won its first FCS championship last year, a season after reaching the quarterfinals before falling to Eastern Washington, the eventual
national champion. North Dakota State is 13-1 overall and was 7-1 to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference one game ahead of South Dakota State, a team it beat during the regular season and again in the second round (28-3) of this year’s playoffs. The
Bison followed with a 14-7 win against Wofford and defeated Georgia Southern (23-20) for the second consecutive season to reach the championship game. Craig Bohl is 88-32 in his 10th season as the head coach at North Dakota State. The Bison are the winningest
program in both Division I subdivisions with a 26-2 record the last two seasons.
A Further Look at North Dakota State: The Bison are averaging 32.6 points and 365.1 yards per game on offense and are limiting opponents to 11.4 points and 223.3 yards per game. North Dakota State has a balanced offense, averaging 196.6
yards on the ground and 168.6 yards passing. Quarterback Brock Jensen has completed 61.5 percent of his passes (198 of 322) for 2,216 yards and 17 touchdowns and has thrown only eight interceptions. He has added nine rushing touchdowns but the bulk of the
team’s rushing yards come from running backs John Crockett and Sam Ojuri. In 14 games and only one as a starter, Crockett has 956 yards on 183 carries and nine touchdowns. He averages 68.3 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. Ojuri has 955 yards and 10
touchdowns on 201 carries in 13 games. He averages 73.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. The trio accounts for 28 of the team’s 35 rushing touchdowns. The team’s leading receiver is Ryan Smith, who has 47 receptions for 519 yards and three scores. Zach
Vraa has 575 receiving yards and four touchdowns on 43 catches. Grant Olson is the team’s leading tackler with 96 stops to go with 11.5 tackles for loss. Cole Jirik leads the team with 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks. Marcus Williams leads the team with
Southland’s Eighth Entry in Title Game: Sam Houston State is the Southland Conference’s eighth entry into the Division I Football Championship Game and is the first team to make back-to-back appearances. Southland teams made consecutive
appearances once previously with former league member Arkansas State falling to Georgia Southern in 1986 before Louisiana-Monroe defeated Marshall to win the 1987 championship, the only national title won by the Southland. The league made four appearances
in the title game during a six-year span from 1984-89. Louisiana Tech played Montana State in 1984 and Stephen F. Austin played Georgia Southern in 1989. McNeese State faced Youngstown State in 1997 and Western Kentucky in 2002 before Sam Houston State consecutive
appearances in 2011 and 2012.
Southland Conference Title Game Appearances
1984 Montana State 19, Louisiana Tech* 6
1986 Georgia Southern 48, Arkansas St.* 21
1987 Louisiana-Monroe* 43, Marshall 42
1989 Georgia Southern 37, Stephen F. Austin 34
1997 Youngstown St. 10, McNeese St. 9
2002 Western Kentucky 34, McNeese St. 14
2011 North Dakota St. 17, Sam Houston St. 6
2012 North Dakota St. vs. Sam Houston St.
* indicates former Southland Conference team
Louisiana-Monroe, Southland Won 1987 National Title: Led by first team All-America Stan Humphries, the 1987 Indians, playing then as Northeast Louisiana, completed the regular season with an overall record of 9-2. The losses came against
Lamar and Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana-Lafayette), a member of Division I-A. The Indians finished conference play 6-0 to capture their first outright league championship. On its way to the championship game, Louisiana-Monroe defeated North Texas,
Eastern Kentucky and Northern Iowa. The Indians faced off against Marshall in the Minidome in Pocatello, Idaho for the I-AA National Championship. Marshall held a 42-28 fourth-quarter lead only to have Humphries lead the Indians to a pair of late touchdowns
to capture the championship with a 43-42 victory.
Sam Houston State Fell to North Dakota State in 2012 Championship Game:
An unrelenting defense limited Sam Houston State to its lowest total offense and point total of the season ending the Bearkats’ dream season as North Dakota State posted a 17-6 victory in the NCAA Division I National Championship Game Jan. 7, 2012.
The Bison and the Bearkats both ended the season with 14-1 records but North Dakota State took home the trophy after a hard-fought battle at FC Dallas Stadium. Sam Houston was held to 95 yards rushing and 115 passing for a total offense output of 220 yards.
The Bearkats came into the contest averaging 421.1 yards per game offensively. Running back Tim Flanders led the Bearkat offense with 21 carries for 84 yards as he set a Southland Conference record for most rushing yards in one season (1,642). He broke the
former record of 1,593 yards set by Claude Mathis of Texas State in 1997.
Sam Houston vs. North Dakota State: This will be the fourth meeting between Sam Houston State and North Dakota State with the Bison holding a 2-1 edge after defeating the Bearkats 17-6 in last year’s national championship game. The Bison
claimed the first meeting 41-38 in 2007 at the Fargodome in the final seconds and then the Bearkats returned the favor in 2009 when they kicked a field goal to win 48-45 in Huntsville. Sam Houston State is 7-7-1 against the current membership of the Missouri
Valley Football Conference: 5-4-1 against Western Illinois and 1-1 against Missouri State and 1-2 vs. North Dakota State. North Dakota State is 8-1 against current members of the Southland Conference: 2-0 vs. Nicholls State, Northwestern State and Stephen
F. Austin and 2-1 vs. Sam Houston State.
Against Eastern Washington: Sam Houston punched its return ticket to Frisco with a 45-42 victory at No. 2 seed Eastern Washington Dec. 15. Sam Houston led 35-0 at halftime, but quarterback Vernon Adams engineered an Eagle comeback as the
Bearkats had to run out the clock on their final possession to earn a win by the margin of Miguel Antonio’s 42-yard field goal. Sam Houston All-America running back Timothy Flanders rushed 34 times for 231 yards. His most important run, however, was a 5-yard
gain on third and three with less than a minute left. The 231 yards was Flanders’ second best rushing performance in his three year career. The junior, with 25 100-yard rushing performances to his credit, ran for 287 yards in last year’s Sam Houston semifinal
victory over Montana. Richard Sincere added to Sam Houston’s 399 yards Saturday, carrying 10 times for 69 yards. The teams combined for 1,007 total offense yards and 87 points.
Sam Houston Recorded First ‘Turf Trifecta’: When Sam Houston State visited Eastern Washington in a semifinal game Dec. 15 in Cheney, it became the first team to play on all three colored artificial surfaces in NCAA Division I football. The
Bearkats played on Boise State’s blue turf in 1995 and played on the purple-and-gray striped turf at Central Arkansas earlier this season.
Bearkats Cruise at Montana State: Quarterback Brian Bell passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns to lead No. 5- Sam Houston State to a 34-16 victory over No. 2 Montana State Dec. 7 at Bobcat Stadium. Trey Diller caught a 56-yard touchdown
pass from Bell and Chance Nelson had scoring receptions of 16 and 45 yards. Bell completed 11 of 21 passes. The 254 yards marked his third highest passing total as the Bearkats’ quarterback. Nelson ended the game with five receptions for 89 yards. Diller had
three catches for 104 yards. Timothy Flanders led the Bearkat ground game, carrying 31 times for 106 yards. The performance was Flanders’ ninth 100-yard rushing game of the 2012 season. Both marks are Sam Houston school records. The Bearkats totaled 458 yards
with 204 coming on the ground and 254 in the air. The Sam Houston defense produced two turnovers and five quarterback sacks as the Bearkats limited Montana State to 72 yards rushing and 292 yards total offense.
Sam Houston State Holds on against Cal Poly: Miguel Antonio kicked field goals of 20, 32 and 26 yards and running back Timothy Flanders rushed 17 times for 101 yards as No. 5 Sam Houston State held off No. 12 Cal Poly for an 18-16 victory
Dec. 1 in Huntsville. Cal Poly quarterback Andre Broadous rushed for 54 yards and passed for 113 more. The Mustangs cut the margin to two points on a 50-yard halfback reserve pass by Ryan Taylor to Willie Tucker with 1:34 to play. But Sam Houston’s Trey Diller
recovered the on-side kick attempt and the Bearkats ran out the clock. Keshawn Hill scored the Bearkats’ only touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Brian Bell with 0:31 left in the third quarter to end a nine-play, 83-yard drive.
Three Bearkats Lead Six Southland AP All-Americans: Sam Houston State safety Darnell Taylor headlines a group of six players from the Southland Conference that were named to the FCS All-American Team by the Associated Press on Dec. 12. Taylor
earned first-team honors. He was joined on the team by teammates Timothy Flanders at running back and Andrew Weaver on the defensive line. Central Arkansas offensive lineman Corey Howard and Southeastern Louisiana defensive back Robert Alford earned second
team mention. Stephen F. Austin receiver Cordell Roberson earned third-team honors.
Seven from Southland Named to Sports Network All-America Teams: Sam Houston State safety Darnell Taylor leads a group of seven players from the Southland Conference on the 2012 Sports Network FCS All-America Teams, the organization announced
Dec. 10. Taylor was the only player to earn first-team honors and was one of three Bearkats to be named to the three teams. Central Arkansas also placed three players on the team, while Southeastern Louisiana had one player recognized. Taylor was joined by
running back Tim Flanders, the Southland Conference Player of the Year, and offensive lineman Kaleb Hopson, who each earned third-team honors. UCA offensive lineman Corey Howard, the conference’s offensive lineman of the year, earned second-team honors. His
teammates linebacker Seth Allison and punt returner Jesse Grandy, were named to the third team. Southeastern cornerback Robert Alford earned second-team mention.
Sam Houston’s Taylor Named AFCA All-American: For the second year in a row, Sam Houston State safety Darnell Taylor has been named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America team. Taylor is a repeat AFCA All-America performer.
He also is a two-time Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year after winning first-team all-conference honors at safety. Taylor leads the Bearkat defense in tackles this season with 100 including 68 solos stops and two quarterback sacks. Sam Houston
ranks No. 2 in the nation in rush defense, No. 10 in total defense and No. 18 in scoring defense. The Bearkats led the Southland Conference in rushing, total defense and scoring defense. The senior from Mesquite, Texas, broke the school record for most solo
tackles in a career with a four-year total of 233. The old record of 215 was set by former NFL New York Jet veteran linebacker Stan Blinka who was an NAIA All-America selection for Sam Houston in 1975-78.
Fritz Shares Regional Coach of the Year Honors: Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz and Montana State’s Rob Ash were named the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Region Five Co-Coaches of the Year by the American Football
Coaches Association. Fritz has guided the Bearkats to a 11-3 record and Sam Houston’s second consecutive Southland Conference championship and NCAA Division I Football Championships playoff berth. The Bearkats finished the regular season ranked No. 5 nationally.
The back-to-back Southland titles and FCS playoff appearances in 2011 and 2012 are a school first. In three years at Sam Houston, Fritz has guided the program to a 31-9 overall record, the most victories in any three-year period in the university’s 97 seasons
of football. Fritz is a repeat winner of the AFCA Regional Coach-of-the-Year honor, receiving the award in 2011 after a 14-1 season that saw the Bearkats reach the national championship game.
Central Arkansas Made Second Appearance in Division I Playoffs:
Central Arkansas made its second appearance in the NCAA Division I playoffs this year after becoming the Southland Conference automatic qualifier. The Bears received a bye in the opening round of the playoffs, but dropped a 24-16 decision at No. 5 seed Georgia
Southern Dec. 1 in Statesboro, Ga. Georgia Southern’s junior quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed for a career-high 316 yards and scored a pair touchdowns to lead the Eagles into the quarterfinals against Old Dominion. The Eagles, a perennial powerhouse with
six FCS national championships, stuck to what they do best Saturday, piling up 404 yards on the ground. The Bears’ offense fell behind 24-9 at halftime, with several missed opportunities in the opening half. UCA, which received an at-large playoff berth in
2011, finished with 394 yards of total offense but All-Southland Conference first-team quarterback Wynrick Smothers was just 16 of 41 for 251 yards and no touchdowns. Senior running back Jackie Hinton ended his career with 53 rushing yards, including a 19-yard
touchdown, and caught four passes for 36 yards. Smothers added a team-high 79 rushing yards. The Bears are now 1-2 in the NCAA Division I playoffs.
Flanders Repeats as Southland Conference Player of the Year:
Timothy Flanders, a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, was named the Southland Conference player of the year for the second consecutive season. He leads the conference with 1,589 rushing yards on 269 carries for an average of 5.9 yards per carry and 113.5
yards per game. The junior from Midwest City, Okla., has scored 17 touchdowns and is third in the Southland in scoring with an average of 7.7 points per game. He also has 11 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown, accounting for 120.1 all-purpose yards per
game, which ranks third in the Southland. In conference play, Flanders averaged 6.7 yards per carry and 119.6 yards per game. Flanders’ third-quarter rushing touchdown at Texas A&M in the regular-season finale was the 52nd rushing touchdown on his career,
tying Lamar’s Charles McDaniel (1971-74) for the conference record. Flanders has 55 total touchdowns in his career to rank second behind former Central Arkansas running back Brent Grimes (2006-09) who totaled 59. Flanders, who has topped 100 yards 25 times
in his career, ranks No. 3 in the Southland with 4,181 career yards. He is the first Sam Houston player to repeat as the conference player of the year. Only two other players have won the award in consecutive years. Former Texas State running back Claude Mathis
earned the award in 1996 and 1997 and former Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses was voted the league’s top player in 2009 and 2010. Other players from Sam Houston to be named player of the year include Chris Chaloupka (1999), Josh McCown (2001) and
Dustin Long (2004).
Smothers Named Offensive Player of the Year: Wynrick Smothers is the second UCA player to be named the league’s offensive player of the year, joining his current position coach Nathan Brown, who claimed the award in 2007. The junior from
Destrehan, La., completed 64.9 percent of his passes (277 of 427) for 3,103 yards and was a finalist for the Walter Payton Award. Averaging 258.6 passing yards per game, Smothers has thrown 31 touchdowns against nine interceptions and ranks second in the conference
with a pass efficiency rating of 145.7. He has added 449 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 109 carries to account for 296.0 total yards of offense per game. He threw for a season-high 358 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Murray State and topped
300 yards two others time with 318 against Sam Houston State and 358 yards in the regular-season finale against Eastern Illinois. He tossed four touchdown passes in each of his last two regular-season games, including in the championship-clinching victory
over Northwestern State.
Taylor Repeats as Defensive Player of the Year: Darnell Taylor is the fifth player in Southland history to be named the league’s defensive player of the year in back-to-back years and the first since former Central Arkansas defensive end
Larry Hart in 2008 and 2009. Taylor has made 100 tackles this season, which is tied for third in the Southland. The senior from Mesquite, Texas, has made 68 solo stops and has assisted on another 22. A finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, Taylor has two tackles
for loss (both sacks) for 13 yards and has returned two interceptions 40 yards while breaking up five passes and getting credit for another seven passes defended and three quarterback hurries. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two. He recorded 51 tackles
in conference games and recorded double-figure tackles totals against Central Arkansas (15), Stephen F. Austin (10), Texas A&M (12) and Cal Poly (12). Taylor is the school’s career leader with 233 solo tackles, moving in front of NAIA All-American Stan Blinka,
who had 215. Taylor ranks fifth in total tackles at Sam Houston with 336. The Bearkats rush defense is ranked second nationally, allowing just 84.14 yards per game, while its scoring defense ranks 10th, allowing 20.21 points per game. The Bearkats rank 25th
in total defense, allowing 325.8 yards per game.
Conque Earns Second Coach of the Year Honor: Clint Conque picked up his second coach of the year honor after leading Central Arkansas to a 9-3 overall record and a share of its first Southland Conference championship with a 6-1 league ledger.
Conque previously won the honor in 2008 after guiding the Bears to a conference-best 6-1 record, though the team was ineligible for postseason play and the conference championship in the midst of its transition from Division II. UCA made its first NCAA Division
I playoff appearance as an at-large selection last year in only its second year of eligibility and earned the league’s automatic qualifier into this year’s playoffs by virtue of its 24-20 victory over Sam Houston State in September. In his 13th season at UCA,
Conque, who is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, boasts a 98-54 overall record, which includes a 46-25 record since joining the Southland in 2007. He has guided the Bears to a 29-13 mark in conference play during that same span. Ten of his 13 teams
have finished with a winning record and five have won at least nine games. His 2005 team tied a school record with 11 wins, while his 2008 team won 10 games.
Howard Named Southland’s Inaugural Offensive Lineman of the Year:
Corey Howard became the first winner of the offensive lineman of the year after garner the most votes among all offensive linemen on the all-conference ballot. Howard, a senior from Wichita Falls, Texas, has played all three positions on an offensive line this
season enabling the Bears’ quarterback to throw for 258.6 yards per game and an offense that averages 133.5 yards rushing. The Bears offense ranks fourth in the Southland in total offense, averaging 400.1 yards and 34.8 points per game, a figure that ranks
second in the Southland and 12th nationally. Howard is a four-year starter who has started at least eight games each season.
Woodard Becomes Second Bear to be Named Freshman of the Year: Jonathan Woodard was tabbed freshman of the year and is only the second UCA player to earn the award in school history, joining Jestin Love, who shared the award in 2010. Woodard,
a defensive end from Brentwood, Tenn., finished fourth in the conference with seven sacks and was the only freshman among the conference’s top 20 players in the category. Woodard concluded the regular season tied for seventh in the conference in tackles for
loss with 11.0 tackles for losses of 51 yards. The defensive lineman recovered three fumbles on the season. The freshman scored a touchdown against Stephen F. Austin on a 72-yard fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter. Woodard registered three tackles
for loss in a Central Arkansas 34-14 victory over Nicholls State.
Lamar’s Johnson is Newcomer of the Year: Kevin Johnson earned the newcomer of the year award following a historic year for the Cardinals. The Oklahoma State transfer totaled 13 touchdowns this season, including two kickoff returns for touchdowns
while finishing third in the conference in total touchdowns. Johnson, a receiver from Houston, Texas, accounted for four touchdowns in a Lamar win against McMurry to match a Lamar single-game records for touchdowns and points scored. The sophomore scored nearly
half the time he caught the ball with 10 touchdowns on 19 receptions with an average of 16.3 yards per reception. His 10 receiving touchdowns equal the second best single-season in Lamar history. Johnson notched a 23.1 yards per kick return average against
conference opponents including one touchdown. He finished eighth in the conference with 86.1 purpose yards per game including a rushing touchdown in Lamar’s victory of Prairie View A&M.
Sam Houston State Leads League with 16 All-Conference Selections:
Sam Houston State led all conference teams 16 student-athletes on the two all-conference squads. Running back Timothy Flanders was a first-team running back, while Darnell Taylor was a first-team defensive back. They were joined on the first team by tight end
T.J. Jones, offensive linemen Kaleb Hopson and Chris Rogers, all-purpose player Richard Sincere, defensive lineman J.T. Cleveland, linebacker Darius Taylor, defensive back Dax Swanson and punter Matt Foster. The Bearkats’ six second-team honorees include quarterback
Brian Bell, receiver and kick return specialist Trey Diller, defensive lineman Gary Lorance and defensive backs Kenneth Jenkins and Bookie Sneed. Sam Houston added seven honorable mention selections.
Central Arkansas Lands 13 All-League Picks: Quarterback Wynrick Smothers, offensive lineman Corey Howard and defensive end Jonathan Woodard were joined on the first team by seven other Bears, including receivers Jesse Grandy and Dominique
Croom, kicker Eddie Camara, linebacker Seth Allison and Love at defensive back. Grandy also picked up first-team honors as both a kick return and punt return specialist. Three UCA players earned second-team mention, including running back Jackie Hinton, offensive
lineman Cole Caruthers and defensive lineman Matt Hornbuckle. Another four players earned honorable mention honors.
Flanders, Smothers Were Finalists for Walter Payton Award: Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders and Central Arkansas quarterback Wynrick Smothers were among the 20 finalists for the Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually
to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke won the award this year. The other two finalists invited to the award presentation Dec. 17 in Philadelphia, Pa., were Wofford fullback Eric Breitenstein and
Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet. Smothers finished 11th in the balloting, while Flanders finished 13th. Former Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses is the only player in conference history to win the Payton Award.
Alford, Taylor Were Finalists for Buck Buchanan Award: The Southland Conference also has two finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the top defensive player in the FCS. Southeastern Louisiana defensive back Robert Alford and
Sam Houston State defensive back Robert Alford are up for the award this year. Alford tied for Southland Conference lead with four interceptions and was second with 12 passes defended. He made 39 total tackles, including 35 solo stops, 5.0 tackles for loss
and eight pass breakups. The senior from Hammond, La., has been invited to Senior Bowl. Southeastern, which was picked to finish no better than fifth in the preseason polls, was third with a 5-2 league mark and finished the year 5-6 overall. Taylor has made
100 tackles this season, which is tied for third in the Southland. The senior from Mesquite, Texas, has made 68 solo stops and has assisted on another 22. A finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award, Taylor has two tackles for loss (both sacks) for 13 yards and
has returned two interceptions 40 yards while breaking up five passes and getting credit for another seven passes defended and three quarterback hurries. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two. Montana State defensive end Caleb Schreibeis was the Buchanan
winner this season.
Conque Was Finalist for Eddie Robinson Award: After guiding Central Arkansas to its first Southland Conference championship, Bears’ head coach Clint Conque was named the league’s coach of the year. UCA’s 13th-year coach is also a finalist
for the Eddie Robinson Award, which is presented to the top coach in the FCS. UCA finished the season with a 9-3 overall record and tied Sam Houston State for first in the league with a 6-1 record. The Bears beat the Bearkats 24-20 in each team’s conference
opener Sept. 22 to clinch the tie-breaker for the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs. Conque boasts a 98-54 overall record, which includes a 46-25 record since joining the Southland in 2007. North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl was this year’s winner.
Two Southland Teams Ranked in FCS Top 25 Polls: Sam Houston State slipped two spots to No. 5 in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls at the end of the regular season after falling 47-28 at Texas A&M Nov. 17. Central Arkansas moved
up two spots in both polls to No. 8 in the Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls after its 48-30 home-field win over then-No. 24 Eastern Illinois. It marks the highest ranking this season for the Bears. Sam Houston started the season No. 1 in the Sports Network
poll, but after back-to-back September losses fell to No. 10 before climbing as high as No. 3 entering the final game of the season. McNeese State received votes in the final regular-season Sports Network ranking. The Cowboys finished 7-4 overall and 4-3 in
league play. The Cowboys were the only Southland team to register a win against a team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, beating Middle Tennessee 27-21 in the season opener.
Two from Southland Earn CoSIDA Academic All-District Honors:
Two Southland Conference football student-athletes – Northwestern State senior kicker John Shaughnessy and Lamar junior punter Kollin Kahler – were selected to Capital Once Academic All-District Teams. Shaughnessy, with a 3.69 grade point average in biology,
was voted to the All-District 6 Team. Shaughnessy, a Shreveport-Byrd product, plans to attend medical school. Kahler, a former standout at Waco High School, was voted to the All-District 7 Team. An exercise science major, Kahler is maintaining a 3.90 grade
point average. Both players will appear on the ballot for Academic All-America honors. To be eligible for the CoSIDA Academic All-America awards program, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve with at least a 3.30 cumulative GPA, have reached sophomore
athletic eligibility and have completed one full calendar year at the nominating institution.
Southland Membership Change Did Not Affect Football in 2012 Season: For the second consecutive season, the conference will feature the same eight football teams: Central Arkansas, Lamar, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Northwestern State,
Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin. The league did undergo a transition during the offseason, gaining Oral Roberts University as a full-time member July 1 after losing three institutions – Texas-Arlington, Texas-San Antonio and
Texas State in June. The Golden Eagles do not sponsor football.
Additional Expansion Coming in 2013: The league announced in November 2011 that Houston Baptist University would join the league in July 2013. The Huskies have started a football program with the goal of putting their first team on the field
in time for the 2013 season. In August 2012, the conference bolstered its membership with the additions of the University of New Orleans as well as Abilene Christian University and University of the Incarnate Word, the latter two who will transition from NCAA
Division II. That will give the league a total of 14 universities with full membership beginning next July. While UNO does not play football, Houston Baptist, Abilene Christian and Incarnate World plan to play their first full Southland Conference schedules
beginning in 2014. ACU and UIW will not be eligible to win a Southland Conference championship during their transition periods. Pending NCAA approval, they would be fully eligible beginning with the 2017 football season.
Southland Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary in 2013: Celebrating a half-century of academic achievement and competitive success, the Southland Conference embarks on a special commemoration of its 50th anniversary in 2013. The celebration coincides
with the Southland’s 17 championship sports during the 2013 calendar year, starting with the league’s 50th season of men’s basketball and continuing through the 50th football season next fall. Founded on March 15, 1963, five institutions of higher learning
– known then as Abilene Christian College, Arkansas State College, Arlington State College, Lamar State College of Technology, and Trinity University – formed the new consortium that campus officials at the time stated “will be guided by officials who aim
to operate the conference on high academic levels and sound ethics.” Further, officials touted “The Conference hopes to give two states – Arkansas and Texas – a bright new era of added athletic excellence. In addition, the conference will fill the needs of
five modern, growing colleges with athletic competition calculated to build an increasing host of fans.” While the original intent of the Southland founders was to soon add other “like-strength” colleges after the conference’s formation, the original five
members remained intact until the 1971-72 additions of Louisiana Tech and Southwestern Louisiana, and the 1972-73 addition of McNeese State brought the conference into Louisiana, and began a number of membership changes that have included 22 major universities
in the South and Southwest since then.
Are You Southland Strong? The Southland Conference has launched a new marketing campaign known as “Southland Strong.” The motto encompasses a positive mindset and confident outlook for everything that happens in the Southland. It is about
competitiveness and success in the conference, in the NCAA, in professional sports and many other great achievements by member institutions and student-athletes. But it is more than just excelling in competition; it is also about being successful in the classroom
and in the workforce. Southland Strong is also about great works by the league’s athletic departments reaching out and giving back to the local communities and student-athletes providing leadership through their endless efforts with local charity and youth
groups. The conference encourages its member institutions and student-athletes to help promote the campaign by joining the social media conversation by using the #SouthlandStrong hashtag to tell why someone or something is Southland Strong.