SHSU enters season finale as underdogs at Texas State

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This Saturday, the oldest rivalry in Texas I-AA football will cap off the 2005 season in San Marcos, Texas. The classic Southland Conference battle between the Texas State Bobcats (8-2, 4-1) and the Sam Houston State Bearkats (3-6, 2-3) will mark the conclusion of what has been a tumultuous year for the orange and white.

In 2004, the Bearkats were regarded as the SLC powerhouse. With star quarterback Dustin Long at the helm, the Bearkats finished the season with a piece of the SLC crown.

This season, the Bobcats are the conference juggernaut. With only one loss in the SLC, TSU is guaranteed at least a piece of the Southland championship.

Last season, the Bearkats put a beating on the rival Bobcats, beating them 27-9 in Huntsville. This year, the tables have turned. The game is in San Marcos and the Bobcats are the easy favorite going into the game.

“I’m just excited to play,” said running back Jason Godfrey. “Last year we had to beat them for the championship. This year, they have to beat us so it is kind of ironic. My goal is to go out there and stop them.”

Another strike against the Bearkats is the fact that they still remain winless on the road.

In the season opener against Bacone, the SHSU offense lit the scoreboard up for 77 points. In five road games this season, the Bearkats have only scored 59 points.

Many of the offensive problems have come from the lack of consistency at the quarterback position. The Bearkats have started three different quarterbacks already this season.

Over the course of the last three weeks, head coach Todd Whitten has interchanged quarterbacks Phillip Daugherty and Wade Pate in an attempt to spark the offense.

“I don’t think you can win with two starting quarterbacks playing at the same time,” said Godfrey. “We haven’t had any consistency.”

The Bobcats have had little problem scoring anywhere this season. Coming into the final game of the season, Texas State has been in the red zone 52 times, 12 more times than any other team in the SLC.

The Bobcats have also proven that their they are a defensive force as well. Texas State brags the SLC top defensive passing unit. In 10 games (the most of any SLC team), the Bobcats have allowed the least amount of yards and touchdowns. They also intercepted opposing quarterbacks 13 times.

Going into the game, SHSU will surely be the underdog but anything can happen in rivalry games. Earlier in the season, Stephen F. Austin came to Huntsville to play a limping Bearkat squad. Out of nowhere, the Bearkat offense exploded for a 52-24 pounding of the Lumberjacks.

With the Bobcats win over SFA last week, the team won eight games in a season for the first time in 21 years.The season Bearkat season finale will go down Saturday in San Marcos. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.