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Bobcats beat Warhawks in a Thriller


Comeback ‘Cats. Cardiac ‘Cats. Whatever you choose to call them, the Texas State Bobcats lived up to the name Saturday night, rallying in the second half to shock the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe 22-18 at Malone Stadium in Monroe, LA.

With the win, Texas State improved to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Sun Belt Conference play, while the Warhawks fell to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in Sun Belt Conference play.

The offense for the Bobcats struggled mightily in the first half as a stout Warhawk defense shut them out and held them to just 79 total yards. Luckily for Dennis Franchione and the Bobcats, their defense played its typical “bend but don’t break” style of defense, holding the Warhawks mostly in check throughout the half as Texas State headed to halftime down just 13-0 courtesy of two Justin Manton field goals and a Centarius Donald six-yard touchdown run. David Mims helped out the defensive effort with his second interception of the season.

The second half didn’t start out much better for the Bobcats. After a Manton punt pinned them on their own four-yard line, Tyler Jones was sacked in the end zone for a safety to increase their deficit to 15-0. Finally, after the defense came up with yet another stand to force a punt on the Warhawks’ next possession, Jones and the offense finally got rolling. C.J. Best kick-started the comeback with a 27-yard scamper on the first play of the drive, and Robert Lowe eventually capped off the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to pull Texas State within 15-7 with 5:49 left in the third quarter. 70 yards of the nine-play, 78-yard drive came via the ground game, which had to thrill the Bobcat faithful. However, the Warhawks responded as Manton connected on his third field goal of the night late in the quarter to give Louisiana-Monroe an 18-7 lead heading to the final stanza.

As the final quarter started, it looked like the Bobcats had something going, but Robert Lowe was stuffed on fourth and short from the ULM 12-yard line as Franchione opted to go for it instead of kicking a short field field goal to make it a one-possession game. At that point, most figured that was it for Texas State’s comeback attempt. But just as it had done all night, the Bobcat defense stepped up and made a huge stop on the ensuing ULM possession to force another punt and give the offense another chance. Once again it was C.J. Best sparking the Bobcats’ ensuing drive, rambling for 21 yards down to the Louisiana-Monroe 45-yard line to put them in business. Four plays later, the drive once again came down to a do-or-die fourth down attempt, and this time the Bobcats converted big time as Jones swung a pass out to Terrence Franks, who evaded a couple of tacklers and rumbled in for a 40-yard touchdown. Jones would follow up the score by converting a two-point conversion himself to bring Texas State to within 18-15 at the 6:50 mark of the fourth quarter. With the clock working against them, it was up to the Bobcat defense to get the ball back to the finally-clicking offense, and they did just that in forcing a three-and-out on the Warhawks’ next drive. The stage was set for a heart-pounding finish as the Bobcats set up shop at their own 38 following a Manton punt with a little more than five minutes left to go.

After a Jones first-down completion set the Bobcats up near midfield, once again it was Best who gave the offense the kick in the pants it needed, taking the pitch from Jones and going 23 yards down to the Louisiana-Monroe 28-yard line. Best would finish with 86 yards rushing on just six carries Two plays later, Lowe plunged into the end zone for his second score of the night from 21 yards out, giving Texas State its first lead of the ballgame at 22-18 with just 3:29 left to play. Louisiana-Monroe had one final shot, but the Bobcat defense came up huge again as Trey McGowan stuffed Donald in the hole on fourth and short to give Texas State the ball back and the ability to run out the clock on a 22-18 victory.

For the Bobcats, Jones would finish 14 of 20 for 141 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Lowe finished with 17 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns, part of a 229-yard Texas State rushing attack against the Sun Belt’s top-rated rush defense coming in. And while you could really give the entire defense the game ball, once again it was linebacker David Mayo who lead the charge. Mayo would end up with 22 tackles on the night (his second 20-tackle performance of the season) and has now racked up 105 tackles on the year to lead the FBS. The Bobcat offense also went turnover-free on the night, ending ULM’s streak of 32 consecutive games with at least one takeaway, which was the longest active streak in the FBS coming in.

For the Warhawks, Pete Thomas would end the night 22 of 36 for 236 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception, while Donald finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries to lead the rushing attack.

The Bobcats will be on the road again next Saturday as they travel to Las Cruces to take on the New Mexico State Aggies (2-6, 1-3 SBC). Kickoff from Aggie Memorial Stadium will be at 3:00 p.m. Central Time. The action can be seen on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

For all Texas State Bobcats news, updates and discussion, follow me @TexSR_Landan

 

 

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