HUNTSVILLE – Fifth-ranked Sam Houston State lived up to its place in the national poll on Saturday.

The Bearkats trounced Incarnate Word, 57-20, producing 31 first downs offensively while the defense was relentless, limiting the Cardinals to 0.8 yards per rush in the team’s 18th-straight victory at Bowers Stadium. The game, presented by Villas on Sycamore, was dominated in all three phases by the Kats.

Sam Houston (8-1, 5-1 Southland) scored a touchdown on each of its first three possessions and for a second straight week, its opponent helped the cause on special teams. Two Cardinals’ snaps over the head of punter Cody Seidel deep in their own territory resulted in nine first-half points.

The Kats set a new program record, surpassing 600 yards of total offense for a fifth time this season, finishing with exactly that number. The mark bested last year’s four occasions. Of the 19 times Sam Houston has accumulated 600-plus yards, 14 have come in the K.C. Keeler era (2014-present).

The Kats needed less than a minute on each of their first two touchdown drives, capping both with Corey Averytouchdowns. The senior has given UIW (1-8, 1-6) fits in his career, rushing for a combined 356 yards while scoring eight touchdowns in three meetings against the Cardinals.

Avery finished with three touchdowns and 53 yards on 12 carries. In less than three full quarters of play, quarterbackJeremiah Briscoe tossed four scores to go alongside 399 yards in a 27-for-43 performance.

The Bearkat defense roped in seven tackles for loss, including 1.5for senior defensive lineman P.J. Hall, who matched the NCAA record for the category, joining Southern Utah’s James Cowser (2012-15) with 80.0 in 50 games for his career.

On the second play from scrimmage, Nathan Stewart hauled in a 54-yard reception, surpassing 1,000 yards receiving while becoming the first Bearkat in program history to record multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons.

Stewart was not the only Sam Houston wideout with a milestone day. Yedidiah Louis capped a 12-play, 45-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown catch to put the Kats ahead 23-0. With the catch, the senior became the Southland Conference’s all-time receiving leader, surpassing fellow Bearkat Matt Dominguez (1997-00), who totaled 3,273 yards.

The New Orleans product also posted his first 100-yard receiving game of the season after racing 21 yards to the house to put Sam Houston ahead 50-14 with 10:05 left in the third quarter. The victory marked the fifth time in the last six wins against UIW that the squad has posted 50-plus points.

After forcing a UIW three-and-out to begin the second half, the Bearkats padded their lead as Briscoe found an open Davion Davis down the right side for a 69-yard touchdown. It marked Davis’s seventh play of 40-plus yards this season. The junior finished with a team-leading 134 yards on seven receptions.

The Kats found paydirt on their first three possessions of the second half including the first-career touchdown from Michael Mueller who caught a 12-yard pass from Briscoe. Following a spectacular one-handed interception from Royce See with 4:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Kats emptied the bench with 70 players seeing action.

Tre Honshtein drilled two field goals, upping his total to 13 for the season. He needs one more to move into a four-way tie for sixth-place in team history. The junior nailed tries of 42 yards and 39 yards.

Sam Houston returns to action next Saturday, hitting the road for the final time in the regular season when the Bearkats visit Abilene Christian. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.