In a game that resembled a heavyweight boxing match, the Texas State football team hit the final knockout punch with 27 seconds remaining when Bradley George hit Darius Bolden on a 24-yard touchdown pass to give the Bobcats a 27-24 victory at Central Arkansas in a regionally-televised game at Estes Stadium on Saturday night.
The Bobcats trailed by four points with 1:40 left to play when George directed an eight-play 50-yard drive to win their seventh straight Southland Conference road game and defeat Central Arkansas for the first time in three tries.
George finished the game with his fifth 300-yard passing game of the season and ninth of his career as he completed 27 of 39 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats. Daren Dillard caught nine passes for 147 yards and one touchdown to lead Bobcat receivers.
Central Arkansas was led by Brent Grimes, who gained 164 yards and scored two TDs on 21 carries. Robbie Park completed 13 of 21 passes for 157 yards and was intercepted one time by the Bobcat defense.
Texas State took the opening kickoff and drove the ball down the field 67 yards in 13 plays. Frank Reddic capped off the drive with a one-yard plunge up the middle into the end zone to give the Bobcats a 6-0 lead after Ryan Batchelor missed his extra-point attempt.
UCA answered with a 22-yard field goal by Eddie Carmona to cap a 78-yard drive in 11 plays on its first drive of the game and make the score 6-3 at the end of the first quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts on their next drives, Texas State was pinned back to its seven-yard line on a 45-yard punt by Jonathan Beard. The Bobcats couldn’t convert on a third down and two play as Alvin Canady was tackled for a two-yard loss, giving Central Arkansas possession on their own 43-yard line.
On a third and six-play, Robbie Park hit Preston Echols five yards down field and Echols broke a tackle for a 21 yards and a first down. Then, Park hit Echols for another eight-yard pass before Brent Grimes carried the ball for six yards to the Texas State’s six-yard line. Park scored a touchdown when he went back to pass, but ran around left end when all of his receivers were covered. Carmona added the extra point to give UCA a 10-6 lead with 5:10 left to play in the first half.
The Bobcats answered in the final three minutes of the second quarter after taking possession on their own six-yard line. Bradley George completed two straight passes to Daren Dillard for 13 yards and Corey Scott for another 24 to move the ball out to Texas State’s 43 yard. After George was sacked for a seven-yard loss, George hit Dillard on two straight passes that gained 49 yards down to UCA’s 15 yard line. The Bobcats scored on the next play when George hit Mishak Rivas for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Batchelor added the extra point to give Texas State a 13-10 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the Bears regained the lead after holding the Bobcats on fourth down at midfield. Central Arkansas capitalized five plays later when Brent Grimes scored on a 10-yard run to give the Bears a 17-13 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Texas State took over on its own eight-yard line and drove down the field 92 yards on 13 plays to regain the lead. The drive started with Alvin Canady gaining 22 yards on a five-yard run and a 17-yard pass from George. Then, George connected on a 14-yard pass to Rivas and another nine-yard pass to Canady. Canady ran for four more yards on a second-down and one play to give the Bobcats a first down at the UCA 47 yard line. The third quarter ended when UCA was penalized 10 yards for holding Dillard down field. After Rivas ran for eight yards and Canady ran for another, George completed a three-yard pass to Andrew Brooks for a three-yard gain and another first down at UCA’s 20 yard line. Then, George hit Daren Dillard for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Batchelor kicked the extra point to give the Bobcats a 20-17 lead with 12:21 left to play.
Central Arkansas regained the lead at 24-20 when Brent Grimes capped a 78-yard drive in eight plays with a three-yard run around right end to make the score 24-20 with 1:40 left to play.
After UCA was penalized 15 yards on the kickoff for a post-possession personal foul, Rivas returned the kick 13 yards to the 35 yard line. UCA was penalized another 15 yards when Rivas was stopped with a horse-collar tackle. The Bobcats were called for holding on their first down before George completed a 15-yard pass to Dillard on a first-and-20 yards play. After two incomplete passes, George kept the drive alive when he connected with Dillard for eight more yards to give the Bobcats a first down at UCA’s 37-yard line. George completed another 13-yard pass to Dillard before completed a pass to Darius Bolden at the 15-yard line and Bolden ran down the sideline for the game-winning touchdown.
— FROM TEXAS STATE SPORTS INFORMATION/RICK POULTER