|First meeting||November 17, 1923|
Stephen F. Austin 19, Sam Houston 6
|Latest meeting||October 6, 2018|
Sam Houston 54, Stephen F. Austin 21
|Next meeting||October 2019|
|Stadiums||NRG Stadium, Houston|
|Trophy||Piney Woods Trophy|
|All-time series||Sam Houston leads, 56–35–2|
|Largest victory||Sam Houston, 63–28 (2016)|
|Longest win streak||Sam Houston, 8 (2011–present)|
|Current win streak||Sam Houston, 8 (2011–present)|
The Battle of the Piney Woods is a Football Championship Subdivision college football rivalry between Sam Houston State University located in Huntsville, Texas and Stephen F. Austin State University located in Nacogdoches, Texas.
The Battle of the Piney Woods is the rivalry between the Sam Houston State Bearkats and the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The rivalry is currently the second longest in the FCS with Bearkats leading the series in football 56–35–2 as of 2018. On October 20, 2009, according to SFAJacks.com and GoBearkats.com, the Universities announced the rivalry will be moved down to Houston, Texas, in NRG Stadium from until 2013. The Lumberjacks came away with a 31–28 victory in the debut game at NRG Stadium in front of a record crowd of 24,685. In 2012, the contract for NRG Stadium was extended through 2017. In March 2015, it was announced that NRG Stadium would become the permanent home of the rivalry.
The rivalry is not only in football but in men's basketball where the Lumberjacks hold a slight lead 95–94 all-time, the last game was the 189th and extended the rivalry to 87 seasons. In the 2010 season, airing on ESPN2, the conference championship featured the "Piney Woods" rivalry in the finals with the Bearkats coming out on top 64–48 to win the 2010 Southland Conference tournament and go onto play Baylor University in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.
Since 2007, the winner of the “Battle of the Piney Woods” has earned a 21-pound solid cedar trophy that displays replica pistols attached to a tombstone. The logos from both universities are engraved on the handle of the pistols above name plates that will display the outcomes of the contest for the next two decades.
Prior to the trophy, a pair of Colt Walker Pistols were the original prize awarded to the winning team, beginning with the 1976 contest in the Houston Astrodome. These pistols were lost over time and have not been recovered.
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November 21, 1925 – Sam Houston 6, Stephen F. Austin 0 The game marked the first time the "Battle of the Piney Woods" was played in Nacogdoches. The pair battled at Birdwell Field on November 21, 1925. According to an account of the game in the Sam Houston annual The Alcade the contest was "the hardest fought game of the season, the Bearkats downed the sturdy Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Nacogdoches." Led by team captain Herbert Sandel, the Bearkat defense held SFA scoreless. After only three games, the rivalry had developed into a grudge match. The Alcalde reported "In the hardest fought game of the season the Bearkats downed the sturdy Lumberjacks at Nacogdoches. This fray was marked by unusual roughness and hard playing."
November 24, 1930 – Sam Houston 20, Stephen F. Austin 0 At the end of November in 1930, all that stood between head coach J. W. Jones' Sam Houston team and the Bearkats' first ever conference championship was the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. Stephen F. Austin under coach Gene White had won only one game and tied another in its first six games of the season. The Lumberjacks were coming off a 64–0 whipping at the hands of the West Texas A&M Buffaloes the previous week. But Coach Jones warned the Bearkats that the Lumberjacks would put up a strong effort against their arch rival and man who had coached Sam Houston in each of its battles with SFA since the first in 1923 was proven correct. The Sam Houston Alcalde reported "The men from our sister college put up a desperate fight." The article added "But their cause was lost. Driving with determination that could not be denied, the Bearkats steam-rolled the Lumberjacks and won their first conference championship." Dave James, Jackson and Coe each scored touchdowns.
November 24, 1938 – Sam Houston 13, Stephen F. Austin 6 In the late 1930s the "Battle of the Piney Woods" had become a Thanksgiving Day event. When the Lumberjacks visited Huntsville for the Turkey Day festivities, Sam Houston was seeking to post its highest single season victory total since the 1930 TIAA championship season. With a victory over the Jacks on Thanksgiving Day 1938 Sam Houston would assure itself of an 8–2 season and a runner-up finish in the league. A large crowd again filled the bleachers around the gridiron and Turkey-Day spirit was manifest. Lavon Gifford scored to give Sam Houston a 6–0 lead after a long drive in the second quarter. Stephen F. Austin's lone touchdown came on a 40-yard interception return. D. T. Bailey picked off the errant pass, then "lateraled to Bob McGraw who sidestepped several Kats and reached pay dirt on the play." The Jacks failed to convert the extra point. Jimmy Hair passed to J. C. Wells for the winning touchdown in the third quarter and the Bearkat defense held SFA scoreless the rest of the contest.
November 14, 1959 – Sam Houston 6, Stephen F. Austin 0 For the first 13 seasons following World War II, Stephen F. Austin seldom had been a factor in the annual Lone Star Conference football race. But in 1959, the Lumberjacks appeared headed for a league championship, posting victories over Southwest Texas, Sul Ross, Texas A&I and Howard Payne. Only two games separated SFA from the title, the first a November 14 Homecoming encounter with Sam Houston in Nacogdoches. The Jacks were heavy favorites to defeat Sam Houston, a victory that would set up a showdown for first place with East Texas in Commerce in the pair's November 21 season finale. Sam Houston came into the tilt with only one victory in its last four contest. The Kats had been shut out by East Texas and lost to Texas A&I and Southwest Texas. Stephen F. Austin featured a potent offense led by quarterback Harold Stephens and running back Kenny Davis. A muddy field and a hard cold rain greeted the two teams as they took the field. The Lumberjacks offense ground out plenty of yardage between the 20s but bogged down each time SFA threatened to score. After a scoreless first period, Sam Houston senior quarterback Ronnie Choate led a drive to the Jack 20-yard line and put the Kats on the board with a 40-yard field goal. Choate added another field goal in the third quarter, this time from the 25-yard line. Later in the period, SFA made its most determined drive, going 82 yards to the Sam Houston 4-yard line where the Bearkats held on fourth down to regain possession.
October 31, 1964 – Sam Houston 21, Stephen F. Austin 8 In 1963 Stephen F. Austin ended a five-year Sam Houston "Battle of the Piney Woods" winning streak with a 14–13 upset at the Lumberjacks' homecoming game in Nacogdoches. Both teams returned a strong group of lettermen from successful teams for the 1964 campaign. Preseason forecasters predicted a tight race for the 1964 Lone Star Conference championship that could be decided at the "Piney Woods" tilt in Huntsville on Halloween. Coach Paul "Red" Pierce fielded a Bearkat team with a rushing attack led by halfbacks Billy Arlen, Joe Ed Lynn and Ted Minyard. Another team strength was the defense anchored by tackle Frank Fox and linebacker David Martin. The Bearkats rolled into the "Battle of the Piney Woods" with a perfect 5–0 record and an NAIA No. 3 national ranking as Sam Houston posted victories over Tarleton State, Corpus Christi, Howard Payne, Texas Lutheran and Southwest Texas. The road to the "Battle of the Piney Woods" had some bumps for the Lumberjacks of Coach Travis "Shorty" Hughes. The Jacks had lost both their non-conference games and fallen to Lone Star foe Texas A&I but bounced back with wins over Tarleton State and Sul Ross to keep their title hopes alive. SFA featured a strong running game as well with halfbacks Billy Burt and Tom Byer ranked among the league's leading rushers. It was the Sam Houston defense, however, that provided the edge for a Bearkat victory to avenge the 1963 loss. A hard tackle shook lose the ball and Sam Houston's Mike Bobo grabbed the fumble in mid-air and dashed 24 yards for the first Bearkat touchdown. Quarterback Dave Smith completed a long pass to Arlen which ended up on the 1 yard line. From there he did a quarterback sneak for the second Bearkat tally. Billy Arlen and Jo Ed Lynn gained 170 between them. Arlen, ex-Houston Austin gridder, gained 92 yards on 16 carries while Bellville's Lynn ripped off 78 yards on 19 trips. The victory was the sixth straight for Sam Houston and kept the Bearkats on the heels of Texas A&I, the nations No 1 small college leader in the Lone Star scramble. Sam Houston limited the Jacks to only 105 yards rushing and 26 yards in the air for 131 yards total offense. The Kats defeated East Texas 6–0 and Texas A&I 21–16 to clinch their third Lone Star Conference championship in eight seasons (all under Coach Pierce). Sul Ross handed Sam Houston its only loss by a 14–7 margin in season finale in Alpine but the 8–1 record earned the Bearkats one of the four berths in the NAIA playoffs. The Bearkats defeated Findlay College 31–21 in the semi-finals in Findlay, Ohio, to advance to the NAIA Championship game against Concordia College of Minnesota in Augusta, Georgia. Played in cold, wet conditions, the game ended in a 7–7 tie and Sam Houston and Concordia were named NAIA National Co-Champions. Fox and Minyard both were named as NAIA All-America first team selections. Arlen, Lynn, Martin, Norman Peterson and Keith Collins were honorable mention All-America selections. Arlen, Collins, Fox, Martin, Ed Bittick, Don Murray and Benny Sorgee were named to the 1st Team All-Lone Star Conference. Billy Arlen, Frank Fox and Keith Collins were also named to the 1st Team All-Texas squad. Pierce served three more seasons as Sam Houston head football coach. From 1952 to 1967, Pierce compiled a 92–52–7 record. During his tenure with the Bearkats, Pierce's teams won 11 of 16 "Battle of the Piney Woods" games with Stephen F. Austin.
November 21, 1970 – Sam Houston 25, Stephen F. Austin 18 In Sam Houston's first 54 years of football, the Bearkats had chalked up single season victory totals of eight or more wins only seven times. But, on the eve of the final game of 1970, the Kats stood just one win away from extending that total to eight years. The 1970 squad had rolled up Sam Houston's best record since the 1964 NAIA Co-Championship season and entered its "Battle of the Piney Woods" rival game with Stephen F. Austin with a 7–2–1 record. With a victory over SFA on that November afternoon in Nacogdoches, the Bearkats even had a shot at another Lone Star Conference title if Southwest Texas could upset nationally ranked Texas A&I. Tom Page had replaced Bearkat coaching legend Paul "Red" Pierce in 1968. In his second season as coach in 1969, the Kats had finished third in the Lone Star. A victory over the Jacks would better that mark. Sam Houston rolled into Nacogdoches with a powerful ground game built around halfback Fred Reese. Behind the blocking of an outstanding front line led by all-American Ron Carroll, Reese had rushed for more than 100 yards in five games including a 216-yard performance against McMurry. In 1970, that total ranked behind only McNeil Moore's 286 yards against Lamar in 1951. Typical of just about every meeting between Sam Houston and SFA in the series, the Lumberjacks were itching for an upset on their home field. The Lumberjack defense picked off three Sam Houston passes, helping Stephen F. Austin keep the outcome in doubt. Earnest Burr scored the first Bearkat touchdown on a three-yard run and Sam Houston quarterback John O'Leary found end Chuck Hill open for a seven-yard pass. A 15-yard touchdown run by Reese in the second half settled the issue as the Bearkats held off SFA for a 25–18 victory. The victory gave the Bearkats an 8–2–1 record for the 1970 season, the best mark for Sam Houston since 1964. Texas A&I ran over Southwest Texas 42–2 to nail down the Lone Star Conference title with an 8–1 record. Sam Houston finished one game back at 7–2 in league play. The Javelinas went on to win the NAIA National Championship. Reese finished the 1970 season with 1,115 yards on 177 carries, only the second 1,000-yard rushing season for Sam Houston to that point in Bearkat history. The halfback finished his career in 1971 with 2,160 rushing yards. That total now ranks No. 7 all-time in Sam Houston career annals but, in 1970, only Moore had totaled more career yards (2,578). Carroll, Reese and Hill along with Terry Fincher, David Kubiak, Monroe Scott and Dickey Williams earned All-Lone Star Conference honors. The win in 1970 upped Sam Houston's "Battle of the Piney Woods" record at that point to 27 victories, 16 loses and one tie.
November 9, 1985 – Sam Houston 28, Stephen F. Austin 21 Led by junior quarterback Todd Whitten, the Lumberjacks of head coach Jim Hess came into the 60th "Battle of the Piney Woods" in Nacogdoches unbeaten in Gulf Star action and nationally ranked with a 7–1 season record. Sam Houston entered the game with a 5–2 mark. But the Kats stood in a must-win situation in the Gulf Star race after falling to Northwestern State 14–10 two weeks before the SFA game. The Bearkats had an outstanding quarterback as well with senior Lanny Dycus of Abilene calling signals. The showdown brought 12,528 fans out to watch the fireworks. Head coach Ron Randleman's Sam Houston squad jumped out to a 14–0 lead with a pair of touchdowns in a four-minute span late in the opening period. Fullback J. J. Middleton completed a long drive with a one-yard touchdown at the 6:26 mark and halfback Luther Turner scored on a nifty 18-yard dash with 2:32 remaining in the quarterback. Billy Hayes added both extra points. Michael Horace put the Jacks on the board with a 14-yard touchdown run just a minute-and-a-half into the second quarter. But SFA missed the extra point and Sam Houston went into the locker room at intermission with a 14–6 lead. Two third-quarter touchdowns by Sam Houston gave the Bearkats what looked like a comfortable lead. Turner scored from the three with 7:08 in the period and Dycus hit Kenny Allen for a 13-yard touchdown two minutes later. The Kats entered the final period with a 28–6 lead. Looking for their first conference championship since tying for the 1935 Lone Star Conference title, SFA was not finished yet. Whitten hit James Noble for a 44-yard tally with 10:54 to play then added a successful two-point conversion on a pass play. With 4:54 remaining, Whitten found Andrew Ray open in the end zone for a six-yard pass to cut the margin to a touchdown. Whitten ended the contest with 324 yards in the air, but the Jacks couldn't come any closer as the Bearkats hung on for the 28–21 victory.
November 8, 1986 – Sam Houston 30, Stephen F. Austin 26 Led by senior quarterback Todd Whitten, coach Jim Hess's Jacks had lost their last two encounters with the Kats. SFA's 28–21 loss to Sam Houston not only had spoiled the Jacks' opportunity for their first undisputed league title, it had also allowed the Bearkats to share the Gulf Star championship with SFA. For additional motivation, the game marked the first Sam Houston-Stephen F. Austin meeting at the Bearkats' new 14,000-seat stadium. Then known simply as Bearkat Stadium, the facility would be renamed Elliott T. Bowers Stadium after the former university president in 1989. The Kats were 4–0 on their new home field. A capacity crowd filled the stadium to witness another "Piney Woods" showdown. SFA struck quickly with Whitten capping a 10-play, 68-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown run just 4:43 into the contest. Three field goals by All-America kicker Billy Hayes gave Sam Houston a narrow 9–7 second quarter lead. But Whitten struck again, this time in the air with a 50-yard pass to Melvin Patterson to put the Lumberjacks up 14–9 at intermission. The see-saw battle continued in the third period. Sam Houston opened the second half with a four-minute, 11-play, 78-yard drive for Fulbright's five-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion attempt failed, but the Kats held a 15–14 lead. Stephen F. Austin took advantage of a Bearkat turnover for a quick 10-yard drive with Michael Horace scoring on a fourth-and-one play with 5:46 remaining in the third. SFA's two-point conversion attempt failed but the Jacks still led 20–15. With 9:41 to play, the lead changed hands a fifth time as James Shorts tallied on a five-yard run to complete a 62-yard drive. Again, the two-point attempt failed as Sam Houston edged in front 21–20. Less than two minutes later, SFA was back in front after Horace broke for a 53-yard run to put the Jacks up 26–21 with 7:51 remaining. Sam Houston was forced to punt but the boot by Bart Bradley bottled the Jacks inside their own 10-yard line. A bad punt snap went out of the end zone giving the Kats two more points and the ball with 1:05 to play. Now it was time for quarterback Reggie Lewis to take over. Playing with a tender ankle and bruised ribs, Lewis engineered yet another "Kardiac Kats" finish. In just three plays and 31 seconds, Lewis took the Kats 60 yards for the scoring, finding sophomore tight end Ricky Eggleston for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
November 7, 1987 – Sam Houston 31, Stephen F. Austin 17 Quarterback Reggie Lewis, who would set Sam Houston total offense marks that would stand another two decades, led the Bearkats to a 31–17 victory before 15,532 fans at Homer Bryce Stadium in Nacogdoches. "Three words could sum up this game," SFA head coach Jim Hess said. "Reggie, Reggie, Reggie! He is simply a fantastic player and he made the difference today." Lewis ran and threw for 318 yards and one touchdown as Sam Houston defeated Stephen F. Austin a fourth straight time in the 62nd Piney Woods war. Lewis carried 13 times for 70 yards and completed 13 of 19 passes for 248 more before a Home Sports Entertainment (HSE) regional television audience. The senior hit tight end Ricky Eggleston on a 46-yard touchdown pass to put Sam Houston's first points on the board. He also darted 41 yards to set up the Kats' second TD. Senior tailback Luther Turner tied a school record four touchdowns in one season (15) on a six-yard run late in the second quarter. Turner broke the record with his 16th TD of the year on an eight-yard run with 9:25 to play. Before the year was out Turner would score 20 touchdowns, a record that still stands. Sam Houston's defense shut out SFA the final 30 minutes, giving up just 81 yards and four first downs in the final 30 minutes. Turner picked up 69 yards rushing on 21 carries. Eggleston grabbed four passes for 134 yards and with a long of 50. The 31–17 victory over the Jacks was the third triumph in a five-game winning streak that closed the 1987 season for head coach Ron Randleman and the Bearkats.
October 31, 1992 – Sam Houston 34, Stephen F. Austin 23 Emotions run high in each "Battle of the Piney Woods" and the 67th meeting of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin in 1992 was no exception. The Jacks struck first as Christian Fontana kicked a 38-yard field goal after a 10-play 44-yard drive with 5:11 left in the first quarter. Ashley Van Meter, who had come back from his injury that had caused him to miss the 1991 SFA game to direct the Bearkats to their second NCAA Division I playoff appearance at season's end, got a hot hand in the second quarter. Late in the fourth quarter, both teams exchanged punts with Sam Houston taking over at its own 20 with 6:24 left. Four plays later the Kats were in the end zone as Van Meter hooked up with Stewart again for a 59-yard scoring strike. Anthony Miller clinched the victory for Sam Houston with a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with 58 seconds remaining. Sam Houston had earned a 34–23 victory.
October 12, 1996 – Sam Houston 14, Stephen F. Austin 10 The Lumberjacks entered the game on a high, holding down a No. 4 NCAA Division I FCS national ranking with a 3–1 record after knocking off No. 3 Troy State 13–10. Sam Houston was down after dropping to 1–4 for the season following a loss at home to Texas Southern. Then came Yohance Bree's go-ahead 71-yard fourth quarter punt return for a touchdown as Sam Houston State shocked the Lumberjacks 14–10 before 16,038, the third-largest crowd ever at Homer Bryce Stadium. "A great team win for Sam Houston," Bearkats coach Ron Randleman said. "It's right at the top. Everybody in orange is feeling good right now." Stephen F. Austin could not convert on third-down situations (1-for-13) or contain Bree in the final minutes of the Southland Football League rivalry. Bree's punt return with 4:04 remaining erased the Lumberjacks' 10–7 advantage and snapped SFA's three-year winning streak against the Bearkats. "Two weeks ago we reached an all-time high, and today we reached an all-time low," said Pearce, whose Lumberjacks lost to an unranked team for the first time in four years – Pearce's first at SFA. "This is by far the lowest moment in my 27 years of coaching and at this program at SFA." Even after Bree's heroics, the Lumberjacks had a chance to win. Trailing 14–10, SFA got the ball back at its 20 with 1:10 remaining and no timeouts. The Lumberjacks eventually moved to Sam Houston State's 25 with 10 seconds left after Mike Quinn completed a 34-yard pass to Michael Pearce on fourth-and-eight. With three seconds remaining in the game, Quinn dropped back to pass but was pressured by linebacker Matthew Chapman. Chapman hit Quinn as he threw, and the ball sailed harmlessly into the end zone as time expired.
October 18, 2001 – Sam Houston 24, Stephen F. Austin 21 During the long history of the "Battle of the Piney Woods" between SFA and Sam Houston, both teams have put outstanding quarterbacks on the field. In Huntsville in 2001, two of the best, Josh McCown and Wes Pate, dueled head to head. The contest was played on a Thursday night at Bowers Stadium in a telecast by Fox Sports Southwest that still stands as the most watched Southland Conference football TV game ever. McCown, a transfer from SMU, led Sam Houston to victory as he made the big plays in a huge matchup. A senior transfer, McCown passed and ran the Bearkats to a 24–21 win over Stephen F. Austin in a Southland Football League showdown at Bowers Stadium. With the victory, the Bearkats took over sole possession of first place in the Southland Conference. At 3–0, Sam Houston stood as the lone unbeaten team in the seven-team conference and owned a 6–1 for the first time since 1986. "By no means is the race over," said Sam Houston State coach Ron Randleman. "But we're in better shape now, than if we hadn't won it. Two very good football teams playing real hard, making plays, wanting to do something. And we were able to answer." No play was as important than P.J. Traylor's 14-yard interception return for touchdown that gave Sam Houston State a 14–7 lead with 1:42 left in the first half. "Our defense played great the whole ballgame," Randleman said. "We didn't get our offense going in the first quarter. But then, after that, we played well offensively." The Bearkats led 24–14 late in the game, but things got interesting in the final two minutes. SFA's David Crocker picked up a fumble and returned it 52 yards to the Bearkats' 28-yard line. A holding penalty brought the ball back to the 43. Five plays later SFA scored on a 10-yard pass from quarterback Wes Pate to Anthony Dingle with 1:53 remaining in the game. Sam Houston Brian Null recovered the ensuing on-side kick and returned it 33 yards to SFA's 17-yard line. The Bearkats failed to run out the clock but by the time SFA had possession, there were only eight seconds remaining and the Lumberjacks (4–3, 2–1) were 92 yards from the end zone. The game ended on the SFA 44 following a 36-yard reception. "Winning is the reason I came here," said McCown, who transferred to Sam Houston in the spring. "That's what it is, wins and losses. Nothing against SMU, I want to see them do well. I still have friends there. "I had only year of eligibility to turn it around so I wanted to come to a (NCAA Division I-AA) program. And the caliber of football here is great. So far, it's worked real well." The 6–4, 223-pound McCown passed for 159 yards and rushed for 98 yards including runs of 16 and 21 yards in the Bearkats' fourth-quarter drive that resulted in Ryan Price's 22-yard field goal that gave the Bearkats a 24–14 advantage with 10:26 left in the game. "The guy can run, he can throw it, he's a great football player," Randleman said. "The guy is tough. Both quarterbacks, I mean they got hit and got hit and just hung in there. We're proud to have Josh. He took a lot of hits." McCown completed 15-of-33 passes including touchdown passes of 12 and 32 yards to Jonathon Cooper, the conference's leading receiver who had five receptions for 88 yards. SFA marched 73 yards to tie the score at 14 on the opening possession of the second half. That was as close as the Lumberjacks would get. "We got beat in the kicking game," said SFA coach Mike Santiago. Usually reliable Ryan Rossner missed three field goals for SFA, who outgained the Bearkats 372–368. Pate completed 20-of-35 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns – both to Dingle. Down 14–7 at halftime, Pate's one-yard run tied the game 14–14. Sam Houston regained the lead 21–14 on a 32-yard scoring pass from McCown to Cooper with 9:09 left in the third quarter. Led by McCown, the Bearkats rolled to a 10–3 record in 2001, winning the Southland Conference and reaching the NCAA Division I championship quarterfinals. Fourteen Bearkats earned either first team, second team or honorable mention All-Southland honors. Three went on to play in the NFL.
October 19, 2002 – Sam Houston 10, Stephen F. Austin 7 In 2002, when an unranked Sam Houston team upset another nationally ranked SFA squad at Lumberjack homecoming in Nacogdoches, a sports writer for the Houston Chronicle suggested that, perhaps, Stephen F. Austin should quit scheduling the Bearkats for homecoming. He reasoned this was a good idea since the Lumberjacks hadn't had much to celebrate in the past several years against their Southland Conference rival. That Saturday night in 2002 was no exception for Stephen F. Austin, which came into the game ranked 23rd among the nation's Division I-AA teams while the Bearkats had lost four of six games. Shut out for three quarters, Sam Houston State scored 10 fourth-quarter points to surprise Stephen F. Austin 10–7 at Homer Bryce Stadium, defeating the Lumberjacks for the third consecutive year. "I played in two overtime games in high school that we won but this is the most exciting thing, to beat SFA," said Bearkat quarterback Travis Tobaben, who passed for 216 yards. "The team just kept on fighting. A lot of guys grew up today." Maurice Harris' two-yard touchdown run with 6:36 left proved to be the difference for Sam Houston State (3–4, 1–1), which failed to score on three possessions after advancing to SFA's six-, 13- and eight-yard lines. "We just kept hanging in," Bearkats coach Ron Randleman said. "Wow. That was fun." Lumberjacks coach Mike Santiago had a different perspective, especially after seeing a turnover by his team set up Sam Houston's State game-winning TD drive. "We let it get away," Santiago said. "They (Sam Houston) were playing with momentum in the second half. They didn't look like a 2–4 team ... especially on defense." Neither team could get untracked to start the game and played a scoreless first half. But the turning point came with 9:41 remaining and the Lumberjacks (4–3, 1–1) ahead 7–3. Facing third-and-two from the SFA 47, Lumberjacks quarterback Michael Williams dropped back but was pressured by Michael Saumell-Baston. Williams' pass was intercepted by Michael Thompson, who returned the ball 13 yards to the Lumberjacks' 37. From there, Sam Houston State needed eight plays to take the lead, getting a touchdown on Harris' two-yard plunge off left tackle. Tobaben's seven-yard pass to Marcus Carter on fourth-and-two from the 29 kept the drive alive. "That pass on fourth down goes on the list of unforgettable big plays for Sam Houston in this series" Randleman said. On their previous possession, the Bearkats converted a fourth down that led to Joey Price's 42-yard field goal, cutting SFA's lead to 7–3 with 11:28 left in the fourth. Williams, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 83 yards and ran for 31 yards, directed the Lumberjacks' only scoring drive as SFA marched 86 yards in 14 plays, taking 6:25 off the clock to open the second half. Williams connected with Kevin Landry on a three-yard scoring pass, and Stephen Coker's extra point with 8:35 remaining in the third quarter gave the Lumberjacks a 7–0 lead. Williams, a senior from Cypress Springs, got off a 64-yard punt to the Sam Houston State two with 5:13 left and the Lumberjacks trailing 10–7. Facing fourth-and-four from his 34, Williams was in shotgun formation, but the Bearkats were not sure what SFA was going to do and had no one back to field a punt. So Williams took the snap and punted the ball, where it died at the Sam Houston State two. The Lumberjacks were hoping to hold the Bearkats and get the ball back after a punt, but Sam Houston State had other ideas. The Bearkats picked up two first downs, including a 39-yard pass from Tobaben to Michael Darnell, before having to punt with 47 seconds remaining. But with no timeouts, SFA was left stranded at its 24 as the clock ran out.
October 23, 2010 – Stephen F. Austin 31, Sam Houston 28 Jeremy Moses became the Southland Conference's all-time leader in total offense as he led Stephen F. Austin to a 31–28 victory over Sam Houston in the 85th "Battle of the Piney Woods" rivalry played the Reliant Stadium Saturday afternoon. The crowd of 24,685 was the largest in SHSU-SFA series history and the largest crowd for a Bearkat game vs. an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Tim Flanders led Sam Houston with 23 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Richard Sincere had 72 yards on eight carries and a score. On the strength of Moses' arm, the Lumberjacks powered to a 14–0 lead in the first quarter. He hit Jeremy Barnes for a six-yard score to complete an eight-play, 89-yard drive with 8:29 left in the period. On the next SFA possession Moses hit Corde Roberson for a 58-yard scoring pass. A fourth down gamble propelled Sam Houston to its first score. Bryan Randolph passed to Richard Sincere from punt formation on fourth down for a 24-yard gain to the SFA 32. Sincere then took a direct snap from center and race around left end for a 32-yard score to cut the margin to 14–7 with 12:45 in the second period. After a successful onside kick, the Bearkats took just three plays to score as Tim Flanders broke open for a 45-yard touchdown run to knot the score 14–14 at 11:19. Moses found Roberson for a 34-yard touchdown to put the Jacks back up 21–14 with 6:53 remaining before intermission. The senior quarterback continued firing in the third quarter, hitting Kris Lott for a 30-yard touchdown to complete a six-play, 69-yard drive 2:18 into the second half to put SFA up 28–14. Brandon Closner's 33-yard punt return to the SFA 19 set up a one-yard touchdown run by Tim Flanders to bring Sam Houston back to within seven, 28–21 with 2:24 to play in the third quarter. Thomas Henshaw increased SFA's lead to 31–21 with a 34-yard field goal with 13:49 remaining in the contest. Bell led an 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a seven-yard scoring pass to D. J. Morrow as Sam Houston cut the lead to 31–28 with 7:02 to go. The Bearkats battled to get within field goal range but was forced to punt, the Bearkat defense forced the Lumberjacks to punt and then was stopped on 4th down trying to get within range on their last drive. SFA kneeled the rest of the way for the 3-point victory.
Sam Houston State's home games are held at Bowers Stadium, while Stephen F. Austin's home games are held at Homer Bryce Stadium. Prior to 1986, Sam Houston State's home games were held at Pritchett Field, which currently plays host to the university's women soccer team. The Battle of the Piney Woods has been held at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX since 2010 and will be held there permanently.
|Sam Houston State victories||Stephen F. Austin victories||Tie games|
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- "Battle of the Piney Woods extended at Reliant Stadium". FOX News Network. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Green, Holly (17 October 2007). "SHSU, SFA to battle for Piney Woods trophy". Itemonline.
- "Battle of the Piney Woods Extended at Reliant Stadium". Fox News. Retrieved 2013-04-25.