In front of over 27,000 fans, the third highest total in Texas State history, the Bobcats scored six touchdowns and Tyler Jones had a career day with 310 yards passing, 184 yards rushing and five total touchdowns. Somehow that wasn’t enough as TXST lost to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, 56-50, at the first ever Texas State Whiteout.
Jones had three passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns, including runs of 54 and 35 yards. He finished 31-46 passing and gained his 184 yards on the ground off of 18 carries. Rob Lowe was just shy of 100 yards with 93 on 12 carries. Jafus Gaines led the Bobcats in receiving with eight catches for 78 yards. CJ Best also had eight catches for 74 yards. Demun Mercer caught two of Jones’ three touchdown passes, gaining 72 yards on three catches. Trey McGowan led the Bobcats with 8.5 tackles.
Jalen Richardson ran wild on the Bobcats, gaining 233 yards and scoring four touchdowns on 27 carries. He averaged 8.4 yards a carry for the Golden Eagles. Nick Mullens completed 19-27 of his passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns.
Southern Miss marched right down the field on their opening drive, going 75 yards on eight plays and scoring on a 26-yard throw from Nick Mullens to D.J. Thompson. Rob Lowe responded with a 59-yard run on the second play of the Bobcats ensuing drive, tying a career long for him. The Bobcats drive sputtered and they had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Lumi Kaba.
The Eagles wasted little time on their next score, driving 75 yards on five plays and taking just over a minute on the clock. Mullens found Jordan Mitchell open across the middle around the ten, then Mitchell ran through a few Bobcats on his way to the end zone to give Southern Miss a 14-3 advantage with more than half of the first quarter remaining.
Texas State finally got a stop on third down but a pass interference call on David Mims gave Southern Miss a first down. The eagles took advantage of their second opportunity, eventually scoring on one-yard run on fourth and goal to take a 21-3 lead to start the second quarter.
Tyler Jones responded on the next drive, capping off a 69-yard drive with a 35-yard touchdown run. The score reduced the lead to 21-10 with 13 minutes left in the first half.
After a missed 38-yard field goal by Kaba, the Bobcats next drive went 64 yards on ten plays, ending with a touchdown pass from Jones to Lawrence White. They then followed that up with a two-point conversion on a pass from Jack Rhoades to Lowe.
Damani Alexcee’s second sack of the season set up a long third down play for the Eagles. They decided to play it safe and run the ball but Trey McGowan jarred the ball loose and Brandon McDowell recovered on the Eagles’ 23-yard line. Jones wasted little time capitalizing on the turnover, hitting Demun Mercer for a 32-yard touchdown grab. Mercer made an impressive catch for the score, tipping the overthrown ball to himself on his way to the end zone. The Bobcats made the extra point to take a 25-21 lead into halftime.
The Bobcats went three and out on their first drive of the second half. It appeared the Eagles fumbled on second down, with Dila Rosemond scooping the ball and running it back to the end zone. The refs said the runner was on the ground so they called back the score. Franchione was then penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after yelling at the officials over the call. It would have been third down but the penalty on Coach Fran gave Southern Miss a first down. They took advantage of the free first down, scoring three plays later to take a 28-25 lead.
Another three and out for the Bobcats led to another touchdown drive for the Eagles. A 12-play, 82-yard drive gave Southern Miss a 35-25 lead half way through the third quarter.
Jones made sure there wouldn’t be a third straight three and out, rattling off a career-best 66-yard run to bring the Bobcats deep into Eagle territory. The drive stalled and Kaba made his second field goal, this time a 33 yarder, to bring TXST to within a touchdown, 35-28, with 4:11 left in the third.
A 53-yard touchdown run by Jalen Richardson gave the Eagles a two score lead, 42-28, just before the fourth quarter. The Eagles scored three touchdowns in the third, while the Bobcats scored three points in that same span.
Southern Miss added another score to start the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats answered with a methodical 14-play, 85-yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock and ended with a two-yard score by Lowe.
A recovered onside kick by Jeff Banks on the ensuing kickoff gave the Bobcats the ball back. Jones handled the rest as he stiff armed his way to a 54-yard touchdown run, bringing the Bobcats to within seven, 49-42, with just under eight minutes left.
The air was quickly taken out of the balloon as Southern Miss tailback Jalen Richardson scored again, this time on a 64-yard touchdown run on the Eagles’ next drive, giving them a 56-42 lead with 6:23 left on the clock.
Back and forth both teams went, yet agin, as the Bobcats put together a nice drive towards the end of the game but failed to convert on fourth and goal from the four with two minutes left on the clock, getting stopped at the one yard line. Southern Miss decided to play it safe and took an intential safety when punting, making it 56-44, USM.
TXST was able to score one more time with four seconds left, Jones found Demun Mercer for three yards, making the final score 56-50.
Next week the Bobcats (1-2) travel to Houston to take on the Cougars (2-0) next Saturday at 7p.m.