HUNTSVILLE - Timothy Flanders became the all-time Southland Conference rushing leader in Sam Houston State’s 52-21 win against Incarnate Word on Saturday.
Flanders, who ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, passed Claude Mathis of Southwest Texas with a 41-yard touchdown run in the third quarter before setting the new league record at 4,720 yards.
“It feels good,” Flanders said of breaking the SLC rushing record. “The offensive line did a very good job. I slapped every last one of them in the hand, all of the teammates to congratulate everybody. I feel blessed to be in this position. It’s over with now. It’s on to the next game.”
SHSU senior quarterback Brian Bell also had a career night, throwing four touchdown passes. Bell tied his previous career best in the first half alone with three touchdown tosses.
“We really focus on enthusiasm and just kind of having fun,” Bell said. “When we put points on the board, we’re working for that all week. (Offensive coordinator Doug Ruse) told us before the game that we work so hard each and every week to put points on the board, why not have a little fun once we score. We had a lot of fun and I think it showed.”
Incarnate Word took an early lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Trent Brittain to Casey Jennings in the first quarter. The Bearkats responded with a 19-yard field goal to cut the Cardinals lead to 7-3.
Bell connected with wide receiver Chance Nelson late in the first quarter and Nelson made two Cardinal defenders miss to work his way to the end zone.
Incarnate Word regained the lead in the second quarter with a 1-yard score by running back Junior Sessions.
Then, SHSU took over by outscoring Incarnate Word 42-7 the rest of the way.
“I think Incarnate Word is a vastly improved football team,” SHSU head coach Willie Fritz said after the game. “I thought they did a very good job, particularly early in the game. We didn’t start off real fast. The guys just kept plugging away. We’re going to have to continue to keep getting better.”
Flanders scored on a 7-yard run with 8:52 to go in the second quarter and the Bearkats did not trail from there.
Bell came back with touchdown passes to Richard Sincere and Torrance Williams for 26 and 39 yards, respectively. The Kats took a 31-14 lead into halftime.
Bell and Williams connected again in the third quarter for a 16-yard touchdown play. The 41-yard record breaking run by Flanders led to a 45-14 lead for the Kats.
Brittain threw for a 19-yard touchdown to tight end Cole Wick with 3:08 to go in the third quarter.
Bell ran from one yard out in the fourth quarter to score his only rushing touchdown.
Cornerback De’Antrey Loche led the Kats with eight total tackles. Defensive back Johntel Franklin came up with an interception in the third quarter for the only turnover forced by the Kats defense.
SHSU improved to 3-1 on the season. The win extended the SHSU home winning streak to 17 games, the longest active streak in the FCS. Incarnate Word dropped to 2-2 and 0-2 against Southland Conference opponents this season.
The No. 5 Kats will play the third of their four-game home stand Sept. 28 against No. 2 Eastern Washington, the team SHSU defeated in the FCS semifinal round last season to advance to the university’s second consecutive championship game. Eastern Washington will be coming off a bye week.