Southland Conference player of the year Tim Flanders iced a slow but threatening Montana comeback by taking a 4th-and-1 pitch on Sam Houston State's 48-yard-line for a 22 yard rush and a first down with under two minutes remaning, holding off the Grizzlies to seal a 31-28 season, a 14-0 record and a trip to the FCS Championship in nearby Frisco, Texas on January 7.
Sam Houston State opened the game on a 21-0 run that included a missed Montana field goal, as Flanders hit a 69-yard touchdown run. Montana fought back right before the half, cutting the Bearkat lead to 28-14 on a pick six from Grizzlies linebacker Caleb McSurdy for a 59-yard touchdown return. Both teams had been noted for their third quarter scoring, but Sam Houston State was shut out of the end zone by Montana in the second half. Montana would score two touchdowns but couldn't stop a late Bearkats drive to hold the three point lead (quotes courtesy of the Huntsville Item / GoBearkats.com):
"It looked like (head coach Willie Fritz) already decided (that we were going for it on fourth down)," Flanders said. "I got up and (Fritz) was still over by the punt team. I didn't know if he was going to call it. He said, 'Go for it,' so we went for it."
"We were doing such a good job moving the ball and Tim was just so hot," Fritz said. "We needed about a yard and I felt like let's just go ahead and get it. Thank goodness (offensive coordinator) Bob (DeBesse) made a nice call and Tim made a nice cut."
The winner of Saturday's Georgia Southern / North Dakota State semifinal game in Fargo, North Dakota will face Sam Houston State.
For complete coverage of Sam Houston State and the rest of FCS Playoffs, visit SB Nation's college football page.