In a season that featured five comeback victories, the Texas State football team saved their biggest comeback of the 2008 season for their final regular season game when the Bobcats overcame a 21-0 deficit and won their second Southland Conference championship with a 48-45 overtime victory at Sam Houston State on Saturday.Texas State also was Southland Conference co-champions in 2005, but this is the first outright conference championship for the Bobcats since 1982 when Texas State won the NCAA Division II national championship with a 14-0 record.
Sam Houston State opened the day with James Aston running for a four-yard touchdown run and Rett Bomar throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Trey Payne to give the Bearkats a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
Bomar threw another 20-yard touchdown pass to Jason Madkins with 11:21 left to play in the first half to give the Bearkats a 21-0 lead.
The Bobcats scored their first points of the game midway through the second quarter when Bradley George hit John Gilley with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Andrew Ireland added the extra point to make the score 21-7.
Ireland added two more field goals in the second period to pull Texas State to within 21-13 at halftime.
Sam Houston opened the third quarter with another touchdown as Bomar ran for a 14-yard touchdown on the first drive of the second half to give the Bearkats a 28-13 lead with 10:49 left.
But, the momentum of the entire game changed on the ensuing kickoff when Karrington Bush returned Taylor Wilkins’ kick 79 yards for a touchdown to make the score 28-20, giving him his first kickoff return for a touchdown and the longest kickoff return of his collegiate career.
The Bobcats tied the game on their next possession when Bradley George hit Stan Zwinggi for a 91-yard touchdown on a screen pass. The touchdown pass tied a school record set in 1959 when Bob Lewis hit Herb Wulrich for a touchdown.
Texas State took its first lead with 16 seconds in left in the third quarter when Bush scored on a three-yard touchdown run and Ireland kicked the extra point to give the Bobcats a 35-28 lead.
Sam Houston came back to tie the score with 4:38 left to play when Bomar ran for a one-yard touchdown on a sweep to the right side.
Texas State answered again and regained the lead when Alvin Canady scored on a run from two-yards out. Ireland added the extra point to give the Bobcats a 42-35 lead with 1:08 left to play.
Bush set up Canady’s TD with a 20-yard scamper on a second-down and nine play from Sam Houston’s 22-yard line. That run gave him 1,000-yards rushing on the season, making him the first running back since 1997 to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back years.
Sam Houston State took over at its 39-yard line and Bomar took the Bearkats down the field before hitting Jason Madkins for a 27-yard touchdown pass to send the game into overtime with the score tied at 42-42.
The Bearkats took the first possession in the overtime period and earned a first down at the Texas State 12-yard line on a five yard run by Aston. But, the Bobcat defense made a stand when Donavan King tackled Aston for a three-yard loss back to the 15-yard line. That forced the Bearkats to throw the ball and Romar’s two passes intended for Catron Houston. Sam Houston State was force to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Wilkins.
The Bobcats took over at the 25 and began the drive with Clint Toon hitting John Gilley with a six-yard pass to the 19-yard line. Then, Bush ran for six yards to give the Bobcats a first down at the Sam Houston 13-yard line. After running for a pair of four-yard runs, Bush took a pitch from George on an option play to the right side and scampered into the end zone for a five-yard touchdown run to give the Bobcats a 48-45 victory.
The victory clinched the Southland Conference championship for the Bobcats who finish the regular season with a 8-4 overall record and 5-2 SLC mark.
With the win, the Bobcats also clinches the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs which begin on Nov. 29. The players and coaches will meet Sunday night at the End Zone Complex at Bobcat Stadium inside the Sac N’ Pac room to find out who and where they will play in the first round. Bobcat Club members are invited to attend with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. and the NCAA FCS selection show will be broadcast at 6:00 p.m. on ESPNU with Lowell Galindo and Tom Luginbill serving as hosts.
by Rick Poulter
University News Service