For most of Saturday evening, the Texas State defense kept the Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) offense out of the end zone. Unfortunately, the Texas State offense couldn’t keep the ULM defense out of the end zone.
Thus, the Bobcats gave one away at Bobcat Stadium, absorbing a bitter 21-14 loss and falling to last place in the Sun Belt Conference. The loss dropped Texas State to 0-2 in the league and 3-3 overall, while ULM improved to 1-1 and 3-4.
The Texas State defense gave ULM fits, holding the Warhawks to 192 total yards. However, ULM gained almost that much — 146 yards — on two interceptions returned for touchdowns. And the Warhawks moved the ball when the game was there to be won, driving 75 yards in 2:43 to score the winning touchdown with 18 seconds left.
The winning touchdown scored when Centarius Donald carried 10 yards, where he met Texas State safety Aaron Matthews. Donald originally was ruled down at the one yard line, but a replay review showed that Donald never actually touched ground at the one because Matthews, in trying to bring the runner down, really rolled the runner over his own body and into the end zone.
Kind of the way it went for the Bobcats. That was the only ULM offensive touchdown and it occurred because the Texas State tackler was situated between the runner and the ground.
“That was a tough way to lose at the end,” Texas State coach Dennis Franchione said.
Though the touchdown was decisive, it wasn’t nearly so frustrating for the Bobcats as the first two ULM scores.
With 6:09 left in the first quarter, Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones was intercepted by ULM safety Isaiah Newsome, who returned it 71 yards for a touchdown to give the visitors a 7-0 lead. There the score stayed until the opening minutes of the second half.
The Bobcats took the kickoff after halftime and drove 46 yards in eight plays to the ULM 29. Then, Jones was intercepted, again, by Newsome, again, and Newsome returned it for a touchdown, again. The play went 75 yards, giving ULM a 14-0 lead 3:53 into the second half.
Two weeks ago, Jones was the savior of the Texas State offense. At this point, though, the Texas State offense needed to be saved from Jones, who completed only six of 15 passes. Texas State coach Dennis Franchione gave the reigns back to senior quarterback Tyler Arndt, who lost them after struggling at Texas Tech three weeks ago.
“When you give them a couple scores, that certainly makes it more challenging,” Franchione said.
Said ULM head coach Todd Berry, “We’ve been talking about making plays because that’s what players do. They go out and make plays and Isaiah obviously went out and makes two huge plays and I thought our defense responded really well.”
Arndt didn’t need to move the Bobcats far for their first points of the night. With 6:35 left in the third period, Texas State linebacker David Mayo intercepted ULM quarterback Brayle Brown at the ULM nine and returned it to the eight. The Bobcats ran three plays to little effect before Jason Dann kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
Next time the Bobcats took the ball, Arndt drove them from their own 10 to the ULM 26. With 18 seconds left in the third quarter, Dann finished the drive with a 43-yard field goal to make it 14-6.
A big special teams play brought the Bobcats back while also initiating a series of bizarre incidents involving wide receiver Andy Erickson. First, Erickson returned a punt 36 yards to the ULM 21, giving the Bobcats a chance to score. A pass interference call then moved the ball to the six, from which Robert Lowe ran it in for a touchdown. The Bobcats went for two to tie, and succeeded on a pass from Arndt to Erickson.
However, the officials also flagged Erickson for unsportsmanlike conduct. Sporting goods manufacturers now make gloves that show the team logo when the hands are held in an interlocking pattern. The officials flagged Erickson for showing that pattern to the fans.
Because of the penalty, Texas State had to kick off from its own 20, which enabled ULM to start from the Bobcat 48. However, Matthews picked Erickson up, intercepting a wayward pass at the Texas State 13 and returning 35 yards to the 48 with 4:59 left.
Here was the Bobcats’ chance to win the game. However, it also was the first of many lost opportunities within that chance. Matthews mysteriously ran out of bounds when he wasn’t even close to getting tackled. The team could have used another 10 or 15 yards towards a game-winning field goal, and there was some to be had, but Matthews ran out of bounds instead.
So, the Bobcats took the ball and gained a first down at the ULM 41 on Lowe’s six-yard run. But the officials called another second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Erickson, which moved the ball back to the Bobcat 43 and got the wide receiver tossed from the game. The Bobcats still had first down.
On second down, Arndt nearly completed a deep ball to Ben Ijah, but the receiver couldn’t keep it in his hands. Texas State couldn’t gain another first down and punted, setting ULM up to drive for its winning score.
The Bobcats gained 358 total yards, nearly double ULM’s total yardage. Lowe led the Texas State attack, netting 140 yards in 22 carries.
But Lowe’s big night came with a loss, and that was bittersweet.
“It’s all about tomorrow,” Lowe said. “Tomorrow we watch film and learn from our mistakes and try not to make those throughout the week so that when next week’s game comes we capitalize on those mistakes we made this game.”
That next game is next Saturday at Bobcat Stadium against Georgia State (6 p.m.). Georgia State fell to 0-6 overall Saturday, losing its first ever Sun Belt Conference game, 35-28, at home against Troy.Email | Print