A Tale Of Two Halves

In a contest that featured a bit of everything, including a near two hour rain delay, Texas State couldn't muster enough 2nd half scoring, falling short on Saturday.

Trailing 35-28 with 3:00 minutes to go in the game, Texas State got the ball back with a chance to tie or or go ahead for the victory on Saturday evening. After a touch back, Tyler Jones would find WR Brandon Smith for a 14 yard hook up and a Bobcat 1st down to their own 39. The very next play, Jones would drop back and look to complete a slant to the left side. Illinios DB V'Angelo Bentley would jump the slant route, go underneath the break, and 45 yards later find the end zone and help secure the "W" for the Fighting Illini, 42-35.

Bentley's "Pick 6" would make it 42-28, with 2:41 to go in the 4th quarter. The Bobcats would not quit. Tyler Jones would engineer a 9 play 75 yard drive, resulting in finding Brandon Smith over the middle, then finding his way to the end zone for a score with 1:12 left in the game. It wasn't until Illinois LB T.J. Neal would come out the backside of a pile with the ball, recovering a Texas State onside kick that secured the victory for the Fighting Illini.

On the first play from scrimmage, Illinois RB Josh Ferguson would get a simple flare pass to the right, he actually caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage so it would register as a rush, and after 2-3 blocks down the sideline, would rumble 75 yards for a touchdown on the games first offensive play. The Bobcat offense would go 3 and out on its first series. It was an ominous start for Texas State.

In their second series, the offense benefited from good field position and a key 23 yard reception by Robert Lowe out of the back field. It would set up Tyler Jones finding Ben Ijah for a short 4 yard TD pass, putting Texas State in front, 7-6. The Bobcats would use a good mix of run to pass and on it's very next drive, and would cap it off when Jones found wide-out Jafus Gaines in the right corner of the end zone for another 6. Gaines did a great job in getting his feet down and Jones put the ball where only Gaines could get it.

Up 14-6 early in the 2nd quarter and the offense clicking rather well, lightning would strike in the area and referees would decide to delay the game. A lingering storm system, would take nearly 2 hours to pass when the two teams received the all clear to start back up the action at about 5:50pm CST.

The Bobcat offense didn't look to miss that much of a beat. On their first drive after the lightning delay, Texas State would get to the Fighting Illini's 28 yard line and stall. Jason Dann's 45 yd FG would have enough leg, but sail wide left leaving 3 points on the field. On their next series, Texas State would put together it's best drive of the 2014 season. Going 90 yards on 13 plays, as Tyler Jones would score on the 1 yard keeper, making it 21-6, Bobcats.

With halftime nearing, this would appear where the Illini offense would kick it into high gear. It only took QB West Lunt 5 plays and 75 yards in using 1:03 off the game clock, to get an Illinois touchdown, cutting the lead to 21-13, and both teams would head to the locker rooms holding that score.

The start of the second half would not be kind to Dennis Franchione and his squad. Texas State would register three straight 3 and outs, where the offense could simply not move the ball. A total reversal from what had just happened in the first half as Illinois would take the lead 25-21.

It wasn't until Lunt would overthrow a WR down the middle of the field and FS Colby Targun was right there waiting over the top for an Oskie. Targun would then have a significant run back of 48 yards all the way down to the Illinois' 13 yard line. From there, Tyler Jones would hit Ben Ijah from 12 yards out, for his second receiving TD of the game. The Bobcats would jump back in front, 28-25.

For only a short time, the Bobcats would stay in front. Illinois would outscore the 'Cats 17-7 in the 4th quarter and end the game on a 36-14 run to outlast the Bobcats.

Offensively, Texas State finished with 475 yards of offense, compared to Illinois' 485. Sophomore QB Tyler Jones threw for 336 yards, 4 TD's and 1 costly interception. Junior RB Robert Lowe continued his stellar play racking up 117 yards on the ground on 26 carries. Ben Ijah had his best game as a Bobcat with 5 catches, for 65 yards and 2 scores.

Defensively, David Mayo led the charge once again with 11 tackles. Kris Peterson logged the only sack on the day as QB West Lunt would avoid pressure for a great part of the game. Lunt only threw for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was the rushing attack for Illinois that was a game changer. Coming into the Texas State match-up, Illinois was only averaging 71 yards a game on the ground. They tripled that on Saturday night, racking up 219 yards and 3 scores. Junior Josh Ferguson would account for 190 of them.

Texas State falls to 1-2 on the season, and will now prepare for another road game, visiting Tulsa of Conference USA. Kickoff has been set for 7 p.m. from H.A. Chapman Stadium and it will be the third straight nationally televised game for the Bobcats. All the action can be seen on ESPNEWS.

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