Texas State wide receiver Daren Dillard makes the winning touchdown catch Saturday afternoon, capping the Bobcats’ furious late comeback rally for a 27-24 win at No. 3 Stephen F. Austin. Texas State sports information photo.
Texas State produced a ratifying, satisfying football victory Saturday, beating down a 24-0 deficit in less than ten minutes at No. 3 Stephen F. Austin (SFA).
The Bobcats won, 27-24, holding their breath until SFA kicker Thomas Henshaw missed a 47-yard attempt on the last play of the game.
SFA entered the game 3-0 in the Southland Conference for first place, while the Bobcats were last place at 0-3. SFA was on a nine-game home winning streak at Homer Bryce Stadium, where 11,435 gathered for an anticipated homecoming cake walk.
The SFA crowd got its wish for the first 50 minutes of the game, after which the Lumberjacks held a 24-0 lead. But Texas State hadn’t lost to SFA since 2006, and time still remained.
The Bobcats scored three touchdowns in a three-minute span, climbing to within 24-21 with 6:21 left, then scored the winning touchdown with barely more than a minute left in the game.
Right after Texas State quarterback Tim Hawkins threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Darius Bolden with 9:21 left, SFA’s Gralyn Crawford fumbled a pass reception due to a hit by Bobcat defender Darryl Morris. Ron Jackson recovered for the Bobcats at the SFA 20. From there, Hawkins tore off runs of three and eight yards to the one before running the final yard for the touchdown to make it 24-14.
SFA got the ball back at its own 23, but went three and punt. SFA’s Drew Nelson hit a 44-yard punt to Texas State’s Da’Marcus Griggs, who took it all the way back, 73 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, the Bobcats were within 24-21 with 6:21 left.
In response, SFA showed signs of icing the game with a drive, moving from its own 31 to the Texas State 46. But Jeremy Barnes then fumbled a pass reception on a hit by Texas State linebacker Joplo Bartu. T.P. Miller recovered for the Bobcats, who suddenly saw a chance to win the game from their own 32 with 3:36 remaining.
The Bobcats went 68 yards in ten plays, taking a 27-24 lead on Hawkins’ 28-yard touchdown pass to Daren Dillard with 1:10 left in the game. Hawkins completed five of six passes for 40 yards on the drive, during which he also rushed for another eight yards in two attempts.
However, Texas State kicker Jonathan Leeper missed the conversion, so SFA still was within a field goal of a tie as it took over with two timeouts remaining and the ball on its own 17.
The Lumberjacks picked and pecked with underneath passes to the sidelines, but appeared to bog down at the Texas State 41, where they faced fourth and seven with nine seconds remaining. However, Moses threw complete to Anthony Foster for 11 yards to the Texas State 30 and set up for Henshaw’s 47-yard field goal attempt with two seconds remaining.
Henshaw was wide left, completing an improbable Texas State victory.
“It’s got to rate in the top couple,” Texas State coach Brad Wright said when asked how the win ranks as a comeback on KTSW-FM.
The game marked a low point for the best quarterback in the Southland Conference, SFA’s Jeremy Moses, and also a high point for the league’s forgotten quarterback, Hawkins, the sophomore who had seen little of the field since freshman Tyler Arndt took his job during the season opener at Houston.
Hawkins only played because Arndt tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last week against Northwestern State. In response, Hawkins completed 18 of 25 passes for 194 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Hawkins also breathed new life into the Texas State running attack, gaining 121 yards in 25 carries with a touchdown. The Bobcats, who rushed for a total of 247 yards in their first three conference games, rushed for 195 yards in 48 attempts against SFA.
“Tim came up big,” Wright said on KTSW-FM.
Moses will leave SFA at the end of this year with all of the Southland Conference’s major passing records and recognition as one of the all-time greats in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). But his career will show an 0-4 record against the Bobcats, the only team in the conference that he has never defeated.
Moses completed 38 of 55 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. But he couldn’t go downfield against the Bobcats, who kept him out of the end zone in the second half.
“Defense had played well enough to win for us, we just had to put some points on the board,” Wright said on KTSW-FM. “We put them in situations where it’s hard to keep looking up and seeing offense stumble, offense stumble, offense stumble. We told them to keep their head up and something good is going to happen.”
It finally happened in the fourth quarter, when the Bobcats played, by far, their best stretch of football this season to sidetrack SFA for the second straight year. Like this year, SFA entered last year’s Texas State game 6-1 overall, 3-0 in the conference and climbing nationally before the Bobcats took them down.
The Texas State win threw the Southland Conference race wide open, leaving even the Bobcats a chance to claim the title if they win their last three games. SFA, 3-1 in the league, will be tied with the winner of Saturday night’s game between Sam Houston State and Northwestern State. The loser will be tied at 2-2 with Central Arkansas, which defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 30-23, Saturday.
The Bobcats are tied at the bottom of the league now with Southeastern Louisiana, each at 1-3. The Bobcats are 4-4 overall. Nicholls State (1-2) was to play McNeese State (2-1) later Saturday.Email | Print