HUNTSVILLE, Texas -- Timothy Flanders rushed for 152 yards and two fourth quarter touchdowns Saturday as Sam Houston State defeated Southern Utah 51-20 in the first round of the FCS playoffs. The Bearkats -- who have played in the last two NCAA FCS championship games -- will face SE Louisiana (10-2) in the second round.
"You've got to give Sam Houston State credit," SUU coach Ed Lamb said. "I thought we started out well on defense but they just kept pecking away. Their coaching staff and players kept pecking away. They found a way to run the ball on our defense and that's taking it right at our strength, so give them a ton of credit offensively and defensively for slowing us down.
Southern Utah (8-5) jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter after a field goal and Aaron Cantu's 28-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Norris.
Sam Houston (9-4) countered with 30 unanswered points, including touchdown passes from Brian Bell to Chance Nelson (32 yards) and Ragan Henderson (7 yards). Bell added a 1-yard scoring plunge.
The Thunderbirds cut the lead to 10 with another field goal and Robert Torgerson's 39-yard fumble recovery for a TD.
But the Bearkats took control with Flanders' 2-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth. He added a 1-yard dive later in the frame. Keshawn Hill (101 yards) added his second TD, a 2-yard run, with 5:10 left.
"We had a couple of chances there to get back in the game, get aggressive on offense, and we just kept stalling out in the red zone," Lamb added. "I'm extremely proud of our players, there's no shame in losing, especially to a great team like Sam Houston. The only shame would be to do it without class, to quit trying and our guys continued to try, continued to fight the whole game in a classy way."
Fellow Big Sky school Northern Arizona hosted South Dakota State in a late game.
* FURMAN 30, SOUTH CAROLINA STATE 20: At Orangeburg, S.C., Jarius Hollman had a 90-yard TD punt return and another 34-yard TD interception return to lead Furman to a FCS first round playoff win over South Carolina State.
Furman (8-5, 6-2 Southern Conference) and South Carolina State (9-4, 7-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) squared-off in the first round of the twenty-four team FCS playoff field and Hollman's TDs gave the Paladins all the padding needed for the win.
FSouth Carolina State, the MEAC co-champion had won eight of its last nine games in making the FCS playoffs.
Furman will advance to round two and play the No. 1 FCS seed and two-time defending FCS Champion North Dakota State on December 7.
* FORDHAM 37, SACRED HEART 27: At New York City, Fordham scored 20 points off turnovers, Levon Williams was involved in three, defeating Sacred Heart in the first FCS playoff game played at Coffey Field in the Bronx.
Sacred Heart (10-3) scored twice in the third quarter and closed to 31-27. The Pioneers were driving late when Williams picked off RJ Noel. Noel threw two interceptions in the period, each leading to a Fordham field goal.
* COLORADO STATE 58, AIR FORCE 13: At Fort Collins, Colo., Kapri Bibbs ran for three touchdowns, Garrett Grayson threw for 395 yards and three TDs and Colorado State clinched its first bowl bid in five years with a rout of Air Force.
The Falcons were in danger of being shut out for the first time since 1992 and of their biggest margin of defeat in their history until scoring two TDs in the final five minutes. But this still was their worst loss to the Rams in this series that dates to 1957.
Bibbs leads all FBS players with 28 touchdown runs, two more than Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who has one game left, at Army on Dec. 14. His seven games with three or more TD runs is an FBS record.
Grayson topped Terry Nugent's school record for yards passing in a season with a 49-yard touchdown toss to Jordon Vaden in the third quarter, his last pass of the day, which gave him 3,327 yards on the season, eight more than Nugent had in 1983.
Grayson also hooked up with Rashard Higgins for two TDs. Higgins had seven catches for 127 yards.
Behind Bibbs (16 carries for 79 yards) and Grayson (26 of 34), the first 1,500-yard rusher and 3,000-yard passer in the same season in CSU history, the Rams (7-6, 5-3 Mountain West) clinched their first regular season winning record since 2005 -- and they'll be going to a bowl game for the first time since 2008, when they beat Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Falcons (2-10, 0-8) posted their worst record since going 2-9-1 in 1980.
* NEW MEXICO STATE 24, IDAHO 16: At Las Cruces, N.M., Andrew McDonald threw for two TD's as New Mexico State avoided the FBS-Independent cellar by beating Idaho.
Idaho and New Mexico State_both trying to avoid the cellar position of FBS Independent schools_held nothing back in the first half trading passing TDs and field goals and Idaho (1-11) led 13-10 going in to the break.
McDonald tossed a 7-yard TD to Austin Franklin and Adam Shapiro ran for another Aggie TD in the fourth quarter giving New Mexico State (2-10) an advantage Idaho could not overcome. Idaho outgained the Aggies 459 to 371 yards, but New Mexico State had only one penalty while Idaho gathered eight for 95 yards.