The Texas State football team took advantage of a strong rushing attack and ran for three touchdowns in the second half to defeat Tarleton State 38-28.
The win came in front of a record-setting crowd on Saturday night at Bobcat Stadium in Dennis Franchione’s first home game since he returned as head coach last January.
“Well, it’s good to get a win,” said Franchione. “We overcame some adversity, but the key stat in the game was no turnovers, and we played two halves for a change after being in the same position as the two previous weeks.”
The game began as a duel between a pair of kickers as Tarleton State’s Jerry Owens opened the game with a 44-yard field goal before Texas State’s Will Johnson came right back to break a school record with a 53-yard field goal to tie the score at 3-3 with 9:23 left to play in the first quarter. Johnson’s field goal was one-yard longer than the previous school record that was held by Andrew Ireland and Jason Howee.
After Owens kicked a 40-yard field goal to give the Texans a 6-3 lead, Texas State went ahead for the first time in the game when redshirt freshman Terrence Franks scored the first touchdown of the game on a seven-yard run. Johnson added the extra point to give the Bobcats a 10-6 advantage with 13:52 left in the first half.
Owens pulled the Texans to within one point with his third field goal in the game before Johnson added his second field goal of the night, this time from 42 yards with 21 seconds in the opening half.
But Tarleton State took advantage of a short kickoff by Johnson and moved the ball to Texas State’s nine-yard line when Owens kicked his fourth field goal in the first half to close the Bobcats’ lead to 13-12 at halftime.
In the second half, Tarleton State regained the lead at when a snap sailed over the head of punter Ben Follis in Texas State’s end zone and Follis was forced to hit ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
The Bobcats would respond, as Franks scored his second of three rushing touchowns on the day, and Shaun Ruherford hit Cody Matthews for a two-point conversion to give Texas State a 21-14 advantage. After the Texans tied the score again, on a 37-yard TD pass,Texas State scored 17 straight points to go up for good. Tim Hawkins changed the momentum of the game when he ran for a 54-yard touchdown and Franks scored his final TD on a 31 yard gallop. In between the two touchdown runs, Johnson added a 37-yard field goal.
“We came out in the third quarter and made a few good defensive stops,” said Franchione. “We played better in the second half overall, but we still had some mistakes and dumb penalties.
Franks’ third TD run of the night gave the Bobcats a 38-21 lead with 6:48 left to play. The Texans tacked on their final points in the game when Evan Robertson scored a touchdown on a two-yard run.
The game was played in front of a crowd of 15,800 which is the largest crowd for a season-opening game at Texas State and the third-largest crowd in school history. It marked the largest crowd at Bobcat Stadium since Nov. 6, 1982 when 16,000 fans watched the Bobcats play against Angelo State.
“The crowd was awesome tonight and they were really into the game,” added Franchione. “Our players felt the energy from the fans, students and the band. We appreciated them being here tonight. It meant a lot to the players and it meant a lot to me. For the process through which we are going with the move to the WAC, it is going to take the whole village.”
The victory was the first win of the season for the Bobcats, who improved to 1-2 this season. Texas State will travel to Nacogdoches, Texas next Saturday and play Stephen F. Austin in a game that kicks off at 6:00 p.m.