Huntsville, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Houston State's FCS playoff experience was on display Saturday as it eliminated Southern Utah, 51-20, in the first round.
The Bearkats (9-4) have reached the last two national championship games. They will visit fellow Southland Conference member Southeastern Louisiana in the second round next Saturday. SELU won the regular-season meeting, 34-21.
Southern Utah (8-5), from the Big Sky Conference, was making the first FCS playoff appearance in program history.
Veteran running back Timothy Flanders, the active career rushing leader in the FCS, powered Sam Houston State with 177 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns on the ground.
Quarterback Brian Bell, a four-year starter, completed 15-of-21 pass attempts for 176 yards and two touchdowns. The Bearkats overcame a 10-0 deficit in the first quarter by scoring 30 unanswered points.
Keyshawn Hall added 101 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
After Southern Utah pulled within 30-20, Flanders scored on a 2-yard run to open the fourth quarter and put the Bearkats back in complete control. They finished with 355 rushing yards and 531 total yards.
Southern Utah quarterback Aaron Cantu was 28-of-43 for 270 yards and one touchdown. The Thunderbirds rushed for only 47 yards.
Sam Houston State ended a two-game losing streak while handing the Thunderbirds a second straight loss to end their season.