When it rains, it pours. For Bearkat football (1-4), it seems like torrential storms have been hovering directly on top of the Bearkats, following them on the road as well as back home.
Last Thursday, as the rain poured atop of Bowers Stadium, the Bearkats fell short of halting a three game losing streak as they fell to Tarleton State (4-2) 39-20. This game marked the fourth loss out of five and also made history as the Kats lost their first Thursday night home game ever.
“It’s really disappointing,” said head coach Ron Randleman. “I am disappointed we did not play better. We made too many mistakes and turned the ball over too many times.”
SHSU put points on the board first but the Texans quickly answered back. Tarleton had scored four times, 26 points, before the Bearkats would gain momentum again. SHSU scored their second touchdown after a textbook 14 play, 60-yard drive that consumed six minutes and 31 seconds of the second quarter. Going into the locker room for half time, SHSU trailed 26-13.
The Bearkat Block Party got busy early in the third, as they blocked a punt and handed the offense the ball with only seven yards standing between them and the end zone. Sophomore running back Jason Godfrey quickly punched the ball in and put the Kats within six.
Later in the third, the Kats began to rekindle comeback hopes. After a Tarleton punt, the Kats began to drive the ball from their own 24. They had reached the Texan 12 before the drive came to a halting stop. Sophomore running back Stevie Smith fumbled the ball, and the Texan defense recovered and returned the ball 85 yards for the touchdown that flabbergasted the Kats. Tarleton never looked back.
SHSU turned the ball over four times, three interceptions and a fumble, during the loss. Of the four, two of the turnovers, a fumble and an interception, took place inside the Tarleton 20. Another interception was thrown on the Tarleton 31, halting another opportunity for the Kats to get back in the game.
“We just made too many mistakes,” said Randleman. “We battled back from 26-7. The fumble (by Smith) that they returned really changed the pace of the game. We go down to their 15, and turn the ball over. If we had scored a touchdown, that would have put us up 27-26, instead we were down 32-20.”
True freshman quarterback Wade Pate was given the nod to make his first start, replacing junior Travis Tobaben, early last week. Randleman felt that Pate’s performance “wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad.” He said that it was simply “okay.” Randleman has not lost faith in his decision and said that Pate will surely get better.
“I was kind of nervous going into the game, but not as nervous as I thought I would be,” said Pate. “I wanted to come out and play hard. I think I made too many mistakes, but it was a blessing to get the opportunity to start and get my first game under my belt. It just felt good to be out there commanding the troops.”
Pate’s counterpart, senior quarterback Cliff Watkins, shined against the Kat defense on a day when things were far from sunny. Despite the wretched weather,
Watkins completed 20 of 35 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Going into the game, Randleman said that he knew Tarleton would come out throwing, but that his defense did not play at the level that has come to be expect from his team.
“We missed some assignments and missed some tackles,” said Randleman. “I don’t think that our focus was as good as it has been in so far this season.”
The Bearkats are preparing for the legendary Battle of the Piney Woods Thursday night at Bower’s stadium against Stephen F. Austin (3-3). Last year the Bearkats went to Nacogdoches and upset their rivals ten to seven. Marking the start of Southland Conference play for both teams, anything goes in this epic battle between conference opponents.