Texas State running back Dexter Imade looks for room, but there isn’t much to be found. The Bobcats rushed for only 57 yards in a 16-3 loss to Northwestern State Saturday at Bobcat Stadium. Texas State sports information photo.
Southland Conference opponents have put it loud and clear that they will not lose football games this year to the Texas State running attack. Instead, they’ll take their chances with Texas State freshman quarterback Tyler Arndt.
Arndt, who has been pretty solid in his debut season, had a freshman afternoon Saturday. That and a banged up offensive line led to the most anemic offensive performance of the last three years for the Bobcats, who fell, 16-3, in their homecoming game against Northwestern State at Bobcat Stadium.
A promising football season three weeks ago now has degenerated into a pride campaign with three straight Texas State losses. The Bobcats fell below even at 3-4 overall and 0-3 in the Southland Conference.
The Bobcats are in last place.
Three weeks ago, the Bobcats ran the ball with such authority that it appeared they might go far with a decent defense and a quarterback who didn’t make too many mistakes. But Southland Conference opponents have sold out against the run, keeping the Bobcats to 246 rushing yards in three games.
Three weeks ago, Karrington Bush and Dexter Imade each averaged more than 84 rushing yards per game. Now, the whole Texas State offense rushes for less than that against Southland opponents.
Without being very specific, Texas State head coach Brad Wright has been concerned about injuries on the offensive line. Saturday night, the same linemen started in the same positions as they did against Southern Utah on Sept. 25, when the Bobcats rushed for 224 yards in a 42-28 win.
So, if injuries haven’t removed people from the starting lineup, they have forced inexperienced substitutes into game situations, crippling the running attack and the pass protection, making Saturday’s offensive effort almost painfully difficult. The Bobcats rushed for only 57 yards in 34 attempts. Arndt was sacked four times for losses of 36 yards and, according to the stat sheet, was hurried four more times.
“It was one-man breakdowns, pretty much,” said veteran Texas State offensive guard D.J. Hall.
Unlike last week, when Arndt played well enough for a win, he encountered too much pressure and too much confusion against Northwestern State. Arndt completed 15 of 41 passes for 156 yards, though he did not throw an interception.
At halftime, Northwestern State led, 7-3, in what appeared to be a defensive struggle. But the Northwestern State defense did not struggle in the second half. The Demons all but wiped Texas State clean, allowing only one first down between halftime and middle of the fourth quarter.
As if to be a little more clear about it, Northwestern State’s D.J. Shaw sacked Arndt back to the Texas State 10 on third and nine, setting up Ben Follis to punt from the end zone. Then Jamaal White blocked the punt and Northwestern’s Kedon Franklin recovered in the end zone, giving Northwestern State a 16-3 lead with 8:05 left in the game.
The snowball kept growing, even though the Bobcats remained close enough for a miracle. In the final two minutes, the Bobcats worked from the Northwestern 27 when a defensive lineman jumped offsides. Sensing a free play, Arndt ran around right end and gained five yards before taking a hit and needing assistance to leave the field. Wright said after the game that he did not know the extent of the injury.
Tim Hawkins came in at quarterback, rushed for two yards and threw a barely incomplete pass to Da’Marcus Griggs, turning the ball over to Northwestern State with 1:38 left and ending the game.
The Texas State defense played a representative game, allowing only 287 total yards. After allowing a touchdown drive on Northwestern State’s first possession — which began with a Texas State fumble approaching the red zone — the Bobcats held the Demons to two field goals.
But the Texas State offense couldn’t even give the defense that much margin for error.
“We played well enough on defense, probably, to win the game, and we didn’t do enough on offense,” Wright said. “We got manhandled offensively. There’s no other way to put it.”
If there’s a silver lining for the Bobcats, their young defensive line showed some powerful signs of being good enough for this league. After injuries, the Bobcats now have five freshmen on their two-deep chart for the defensive line. Two of them — defensive tackles Prestin Brown and Jeff Clermond — started Saturday. Two more — defensive end Jordan Norfleet and defensive tackle Jamie Clavell-Head — made it into the game.
“Guys are playing their tails off out there,” Wright said. “When they learn how to do what they’re supposed to do, they’re going to be real good.”
The effort was present offensively, too. Bush and Imade each made a number of impressive, hard-driving runs, but they could only shed and carry so many tacklers.
So, it’s all about lining up now for the Bobcats, who go to Stephen F. Austin (SFA) next Saturday. The Lumberjacks are 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southland Conference after a 31-28 win Saturday at Sam Houston State. SFA is ranked fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) coaches poll and fifth in The Sports Network media poll.Email | Print