Through its first two games, the Sam Houston State offense piled up 1,227 yards on a mind-numbing 190 plays.
The Bearkats made their way to Baton Rouge aware that putting a scare in the Tigers would be a tall task but confident they could test the LSU defense with their high-scoring, fast-paced offensive attack.
Instead, they were stopped cold.
LSU held Sam Houston to 206 yards and 14 first downs in a 56-0 rout Saturday night in Tiger Stadium, handing the Bearkats their first shutout since 2000.
“It was their men against our boys,” Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler said.
Perhaps the best measure of Sam Houston’s struggles was that the Bearkats, with their no-huddle offense geared to run 100 plays per game, only got off 64 snaps against the Tigers.
“We feel like we’re an offense that can score at will,” quarterback Jared Johnson said. “To come out here and not score at all, it’s very disappointing. We didn’t do anything to help our defense.”
With the offense stagnant, Sam Houston’s night went south in a hurry. LSU led 20-0 by the end of the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime.
But there was a time — if ever brief — when it appeared Sam Houston’s up-tempo attack would give the Tigers trouble.
Electing to receive the opening kickoff after winning the pregame coin toss, Sam Houston gained 26 yards on its first four plays. The Bearkats had first-and-10 at the LSU 49 when Johnson got the ball back on a flea flicker and looked to hook up with Derreck Edwards near the LSU goal line.
Instead of an early haymaker to put Sam Houston on top, LSU defensive back Dwayne Thomas turned the momentum with an easy interception.
“Probably a pass I shouldn’t have thrown,” Johnson said.
The Bearkats were down 6-0 one snap later, after LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings connected with Travin Dural on the longest pass play in school history.
As the home crowd rocked, the direction of Saturday night began to take shape.
“All of a sudden it’s like, Whoa, they are for real,” Keeler said. “The big, bad monster is as big and bad as we thought it was.”
Johnson had passed for 703 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games but against LSU completed only 8 of 25 passes for 142 yards with two interceptions. The running game was no better, managing just 50 yards on 36 carries Saturday after rumbling for 514 yards the first two weeks.
But as the Bearkats turn their focus to chasing a fourth straight FCS playoff appearance, Keeler said he will remain confident that his usually dynamic offense can return to creating havoc for opposing defenses.
“We played an animal that we’re never going to see again,” he said.