Bobcats survive, win first in Sun Belt
Running back Robert Lowe rushed for a career high 177 yards in Texas State’s 24-17 win against Georgia State Saturday at Bobcat Stadium on Oct. 19. Texas State posted first win in the Sun Belt following losses against University of Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 12 and Louisiana-Lafayette on Oct. 5. SAN MARCOS MERCURY PHOTO by JON SHAPLEY
The betting line said Texas State would be 17 points better than Georgia State Saturday afternoon at Bobcat Stadium.
Take out Georgia State’s first and last possessions, and it worked out about that way. The Bobcats surrendured a surprise opening touchdown, then a last-second meaningless touchdown. In between, they dominated, though the final score, 24-17, says little about domination.
The Bobcats probably wouldn’t want to sign their season with this one, but it counts as a win in the Sun Belt Conference, their first ever, and it pulled them out of last place. At 1-2 in the Sun Belt and 4-3 overall, the Bobcats have a chance to get even in the league next Saturday, when South Alabama visits Bobcat Stadium.
Saturday’s game began with a surprise. The Bobcats entered the game ranked 11th nationally against the run (90.3 yards per game), while Georgia State averaged only 75.8 rushing yards, which would rank near the bottom nationally.
So, of course Georgia State marched from the opening kickoff 75 yards in nine plays to a touchdown, rushing for 75 yards in the drive. Ronnie Bell ran one yard for the touchdown, and the Bobcats, on their own field, were behind, 7-0, to a team that has never won a game at this level.
But the Texas State defense tightened up, and Georgia State made little more noise. The question became how Texas State would score. The answer came with 2:04 left in the first quarter, when Chris Nutall ran through the middle for a 34-yard touchdown to tie the game, 7-7.
The Bobcats showed signs of moving the ball in the second quarter, but came up short. Early in the quarter, Robert Lowe rushed from the Texas State 37 to the Georgia State four, 59 yards. But the Bobcats immediately took a delay of game penalty and ended up taking a 20-yard field goal by Jason Dann for a 10-7 lead.
Later in the quarter, the Bobcats moved from their own 30 to the Georgia State 23 before running back Tim Gay’s pass was intercepted in the end zone. So, the Bobcats couldn’t shake free and led, 10-7 at half.
Neither team held the ball for long in the third period, but Georgia State took the ball at its own 17 with 2:06 left in the quarter and did something with it, going all the way to the Texas State two before kicking a 19-yard field goal by Wil Lutz to tie the game, 10-10, with 11:21 remaining.
The Bobcats responded firmly, driving 77 yards in eight plays to score a touchdown. Chris Nutall broke a 35-yard gain to the Georgia State nine, then ran for six and three yards in the next two plays to give the Bobcats a 17-10 lead with 8:11 left.
Texas State started to nail it down when Justin Iwuji intercepted a pass by Panthers quarterback Ronnie Bell at the Georgia State 47 and returned it 27 yards to the 18 with 3:56 left. The Bobcats ground out the touchdown in five running plays. Lowe scored the touchdown from a yard out with 1:43 left, giving the Bobcats a secure 24-10 lead.
Georgia State drove for a touchdown in the end, with Bell throwing five yards to Robert Davis to score with one second left. It only made the Panthers a little closer in another loss. They are 0-2 in the Sun Belt and 0-7 overall.
Texas State’s next opponent, South Alabama, tacked up a 38-21 win at home against Kent Saturday afternoon. The Jaguars are 1-1 in the Sun Belt and 3-3 overall.