Using a balanced offensive attack and some critical defensive stops, the Texas State football team out-scored No. 3-ranked McNeese State 45-42 on Louis Bonnette Field at Cowboy Stadium Saturday night.
Junior quarterback Bradley George enjoyed his best game of the season when he completed 29 of his 45 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns. Three of his touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Cameron Luke, who ended the game with nine catches for 142 yards.
Sophomore running back Karrington Bush also ran for 127 yards and one TD on 13 carries giving him his third-straight, 100-yard game and the ninth 100-yard game of his career.
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to execute offensively to have a chance to win the game,” Texas State head coach Brad Wright said. “We attacked the whole game. Defensively, we had some key stops.”
McNeese State scored the first points of the game on their first possession when Todd Pendland ran for a 22-yard touchdown on the game’s second play from scrimmage
But, Texas State answered when George hit Luke for a 39-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7-7 with 11:39 left in the game.
The Bobcat defense had a fourth-down stand at its own 41-yard line when Marcus Clark tackled Steven Whitehead for a one-yard gain on a fourth-and-one play.
The Bobcats took advantage as they drove 60 yards in six plays. Bush capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run.
McNeese answered when Cowboy quarterback Derrick Fourrou hit Richard Conner on a 15-yard TD strike to make the score 14-14 through the first quarter.
The Cowboys looked like they would regain the lead before Marcus Clark forced a fumble by Todd Pendland and Derek Lopez recovered on the Bobcats’ two-yard line.
Texas State took over and marched 98 yards in 11 plays. Stan Zwinggi and Karrington Bush combined for 22 yards and George completed five of his six passes for 75 yards before Blake Burton scored on a one-yard run up the middle to give the Bobcats a 21-14 lead.
Texas State closed out the scoring in the first half when Andrew Ireland kicked a 36-yard field goal on the last play to make the halftime score 24-14.
The Bobcats came right back in the third quarter when George threw for two touchdown passes in the first eight minutes. The first TD pass was to Luke from 11 yards out to cap a 10-play, 69-yard drive. Then he completed another 11-yard TD pass to Daren Dillard to increase Texas State’s lead to 38-14.
“That has been the script for us the last three times we have played here,” Wright said. “We have gotten ahead by a couple of touchdowns and they started scrambling a bit. It doesn’t matter who you are playing, if you can get a couple of touchdowns ahead, you have to like your chances.”
McNeese closed to within 38-20 when Fourrou hit Wes Mangan for a 27-yard touchdown pass, but Texas State answered again as George hit Luke for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give the Bobcats a 45-20 lead.
The Cowboys made the game interesting down the stretch, as Fourrou threw two more touchdowns to Whitehead and Pendland to make the score 45-34 with 3:14 left. After McNeese recovered an on-side kick, the Cowboys scored the final points of the game when Fourrou ran for a two-yard TD run and Whitehead ran for the two-point conversion with 56 seconds left to play.
This time, the Bobcats recovered the on-side kick and ran out the final seconds to win for the third straight time in Lake Charles and improve their record to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in Southland Conference play.
Texas State returns home on Oct. 18 to play host to Central Arkansas in its annual homecoming game that kicks off at 3:00 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium.