The Texas State secondary played one of its best games in years Saturday night, when the Bobcats beat Southern Utah, 42-28, at Bobcat Stadium. Here, cornerback Drenard Williams ties up a Southern Utah ball carrier, with linebacker Brian Iwuji (6) and safety T.P. Miller (33) near the scene. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
Psychological descriptions of football teams don’t always dovetail with football explanations, but they met Saturday night in Texas State’s satisfying 42-28 win against Southern Utah at Bobcat Stadium.
The Texas State secondary played a landmark game, the running attack was forceful and the passing game was right on time for the Bobcats, who took a monkey off their back by defeating a team that had bested them for three years in a row.
The Bobcats are 3-1 with three straight wins at Bobcat Stadium and now approach a bye week before going to Southeastern Louisiana for their Southland Conference opener on Oct. 9.
Southern Utah went 67 yards in ten plays for a touchdown on its first possession, taking a 7-0 lead with 8:43 left in the first quarter. By the time Southern Utah scored again, 33:53 of game time elapsed and the Bobcats were ahead, 21-7. During a 28-minute stretch right after the first Southern Utah touchdown, the Bobcats allowed only 116 yards.
One reporter counted eight pass break-ups by the Texas State secondary, which was especially strong during that 28-minute stretch. Utah State quarterback Brad Sorensen finished with respectable numbers — 29 for 49, 352 yards, three touchdowns. But during the 28 minutes, Sorensen was six for 16, 49 yards, an interception and only two first downs.
“I’ve been here going on eight years, and it’s the best game I’ve seen our secondary play,” said Texas State coach Brad Wright, who played in the Bobcats secondary 30 years ago and coached on the defensive staff before taking control in 2007.
“In the past, we were able to throw passes underneath,” said Utah State head coach Ed Lamb. “Tonight, they took that away.”
When the Bobcats started breaking in this defense in 2008, the emphasis was on taking away the big play, which opened up the short passing game for opponents. Wright said the Bobcats didn’t change any scheming to improve their underneath coverage. The players, he said, simply understand their jobs better after all this time.
“We’ve come a long way,” Texas State safety T.P. Miller said. “We’re playing the ball better. The tackling is better.”
Lamb also went so far as to say the Bobcats were more into Saturday’s game emotionally than in the previous meetings. Wright wasn’t going along with that, but it’s harder to deny that the Bobcats are more confident coming out of the game than they were going in. They took a step, beating a team they hadn’t been able to beat.
But confidence has an evil twin and, as Wright said, Southeastern Louisiana won’t care that the Bobcats beat Southern Utah. Wright hastened to agree that Southeastern Louisiana doesn’t even care if it’s trailing by 24 in the fourth quarter at Texas State. Everyone remembers that Southeastern Louisiana rallied from that deficit for a 51-50 overtime win at Bobcat Stadium last season.
The Bobcats demonstrated Saturday that they might be a little more timely this year, scoring two touchdowns responsive to the game situation.
The first came right at the end of the first half. The Bobcats took over at their own 34 with 2:19 left in the half before quarterback Tyler Arndt hit wide receiver Da’Marcus Griggs for gains of 10 and 40 yards to the Southern Utah 16. After crushing runs of eight and seven yards by Dexter Imade, Arndt ran a yard for a touchdown, giving the Bobcats a 21-7 lead with 29 seconds left in the half.
Right after Southern Utah finally scored again on a one-yard run by Austin Minefee with 4:50 left in the third quarter, the Bobcats returned fire quickly. On their next possession, the Bobcats moved 69 plays in five yards, scoring on Karrington Bush’s 18-yard run. The Bobcats took the ball again on the last play of the third quarter and scored on the third play of the fourth, a one-yard run by Bush.
With that, the Bobcats held a 35-14 lead. Southern Utah scored touchdowns on its next two possessions and might have fashioned a rally worthy of Southeastern Louisiana, but for a key difference. In between those touchdowns, the Bobcats played ball control offense, holding it for 8:09 as they moved 59 yards in 13 plays. When Arndt rushed seven yards for a touchdown, the Bobcats held a 42-21 lead with 3:23 remaining.
The Texas State offense was as balanced as it could be — 221 yards rushing and 224 yards passing. Bush and Imade each rushed productively, with 85 yards for Imade complementing Bush’s 93 yards. Arndt was efficient in the passing game, completing 15 of 19.
“We proved tonight that we can be a good football team if we get it all together,” Wright said.Email | Print