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Montana takes on Sam Houston’s long winning streak

Sam Houston State center Travis Watson didn’t mince words when discussing the Bearkats’ upcoming test.

“Montana is the best team we’ve faced this year,” Watson said. “They have a tradition of success in the FCS playoffs. This is going to be a tremendous challenge for us.”

Top-seeded and top-ranked SHSU (13-0) will put its 15-game winning streak on the line when it takes on the No. 4 Grizzlies (11-2) in the NCAA Division I football playoff semifinals at 7 p.m. today at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas.

“We’re looking forward to this tremendous challenge to go against Montana,” Sam Houston State coach Willie Fritz said. “We know about all the history and tradition of Montana football. They’re a very, very talented team.”

After suffering a loss to Sacramento State on Sept. 24 in the team’s Big Sky opener, Montana strung together nine consecutive victories. In those wins, the high-powered offense – led by quarterback Jordan Johnson – averaged 38.7 points per game.

Against the vaunted Bearkats’ defense, which has been nails throughout the year, it is going to be a battle. But to safety Darnell Taylor, it really shouldn’t be that complicated.

“They like to run and they like to pass,” Taylor said. “They have really good backs and a good receiving corps. We just have to play like we’ve been playing. It ain’t that much to it.”

The Bearkats’ recipe for success has been to jump on opponents early and never relent. SHSU only trailed five times during the season. The largest deficit it has faced has been seven points.

The third quarter has been the decisive period for SHSU. Coming out of the locker room, the Bearkats have outscored opponents 177-24.

The winner of today’s game will advance to the championship, Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas.

“It’s either win or go home,” SHSU sophomore wide receiver Richard Sincere said.