Huntsville, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - They didn't meet in the regular season, so Sam Houston State might be saying it won the de facto title game between the two Southland Conference co-champions Saturday.
Oh yes, the Bearkats are even happier to be advancing in the FCS playoffs after they defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 21-17, in the first round.
Sam Houston (9-4) will travel to third-seeded Jacksonville State (10-1), the Ohio Valley Conference champion, for a second-round showdown next Saturday.
Sam Houston and Southeastern (9-4) tied for the Southland title with 7-1 records, but they didn't face each other in the unbalanced 11-team conference schedule.
The Bearkats, under first-year coach K.C. Keeler, overcame four turnovers, playing well defensively in the second half and getting an important block of a Southeastern field goal attempt during the fourth quarter.
The Lions were trying to extend a 17-14 lead, but defensive end P.J. Hall (four tackles for loss, one sack) blocked Ryan Adams' 46-yard attempt with 8:37 left. The Bearkats then drove 59 yards in seven plays, going ahead 21-17 on Donovan Williams' 5-yard run.
Southeastern had three final drives, but one started at their 6-yard line and their final one from their 1.
A muffed punt set up Williams for a 1-yard touchdown run and Jalen Overstreet scored from 3 yards out for Sam Houston, which trailed 10-0 at halftime.
Southeastern quarterback Bryan Bennett, who played on an injured foot, ran for the Lions' two touchdowns, but struggled to gain 181 yards on 17-for-48 passing, and was limited to 14 yards on 16 carries.
Sam Houston lost to Southeastern, 30-29, in last year's playoff second round.