In a game riddled with touchdown after touchdown, it was a field goal that put the game out of reach for Eastern Washington and led to the 45-42 victory for Sam Houston State on Saturday.
After a back-and-forth game, Miguel Antonio hit a 42-yard field goal in the final six minutes of play to make it a two-score game, which sealed the deal for the Bearkats.
The Eagles came very close to bringing it back, when Vernon Adams hit Brandon Kaufman for a 33-yard touchdown with about three minutes to go. The Bearkats, however, were able to kill off the clock and secure the victory, preventing Eastern Washington from securing the biggest comeback in FCS Playoffs history.
It was all Sam Houston State to start the game, as they rattled off five consecutive, unanswered touchdowns in the first half, to take a commanding 35-0 lead into halftime. It wasn't until the second half the Eastern Washington got started, scoring four straight touchdowns of their own to come within one score.
For Sam Houston, it was all about running the ball, while Eastern Washington made things happen through the air.
Tim Flanders carried the ball 34 times for 231 yards for the Bearkats, while Brian Bell added eight carries for 59 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In all, Sam Houston had 418 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. On the flip side, Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams threw for 364 yards and six touchdowns. Kyle Padron also added 117 yards of his own through the air.
To contrast, the Bearkats had only 85 passing yards, while the Eagles had just 42 rushing yards. The Bearkats had an average yards per pass of 6.1, while the Eagles had 11.5. Likewise, the Bearkats had a per-carry average of 6.4 against the Eagles' 2.2.
The Bearkats will go on to face North Dakota St. in the FCS Championship Game on Jan. 5. The No. 1-seeded Bison gutted out a 23-20 victory over Georgia Southern on Friday to advance to the finals.