Despite taking the lead, 21-17, on the first play of the fourth quarter, three turnovers by Texas State (2-6, 1-3) quarterback Tyler Jones and three touchdowns by New Mexico State (2-7, 2-3) running back Larry Rose III led to a Bobcats loss to the Aggies, 31-21.
Jones threw an interception at the Texas State two-yard line, and then another interception to end the game after the ball bounced off of receiver CJ Best’s chest. Another key play in the game was a 4th and 2 at midfield with the Bobcats down 10 where Coach Franchione elected to punt the ball away.
In his response to the loss, Franchione explained, “our team can’t find the way and that’s on me. I take full responsibility for that.”
Jones finished the game completing 21 of 36 passes for 287 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions and one fumble. He also rushed for two touchdowns and 22 yards on 13 carries. Running back Rob Lowe added 88 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
Rose finished the game with 292 total yards, 207 yards rushing and 85 receiving. He also had three touchdowns, two on the ground and one receiving.
New Mexico State started the game by converting a crucial fourth down, which led to a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run by Rose.
The Bobcat offense got off to a slow start with a three and out, and then a Tyler Jones fumble. Even with the fumble recovery by the Aggies, the Bobcat defense was able to force them to a three and out after a Karee Berry seven-yard sack on third down.
Toward the end of the first quarter, the Bobcat offense started to get things rolling with a few big passes from Jones to Brandon Smith and CJ Best for 30 yards and 19 yards, respectively, but Lumi Kaba missed a 34-yard field goal attempt. The Aggies took a seven to zero lead in to the second quarter.
A key play in the second quarter was a pass break up by safety Damani Alexcee in the end zone on fourth down to force a New Mexico State field goal, putting the Aggies up 10-0. The Texas State offense got rolling in the second quarter with back to back first downs including a pass from Jones to Demun Mercer and then a Jones 10-yard run. Jones had two rushing touchdowns in the quarter, which were his seventh and eighth of the season (also a career high for a season). Prior to Jones’ second touchdown run, he connected with tight end Ryan Carden for a 48 yard catch and run.
To end the first half, the Aggies missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. Bobcats led 14-10 at the half.
To start the third quarter, the Bobcats drove the ball down the field and converted a fourth down. The drive stalled after that and they were forced to punt. The ensuing drive by New Mexico State led to a touchdown after a pass interference call on safety Damani Alexcee in the end zone. At the end of the third, the Aggies led 17-14.
About halfway through the third quarter, there was a fourth and two play at midfield where the Bobcats were down 10. Franchione elected to punt the ball away, rather than go for it.
“When you’re a coach and things don’t go your way, there is not a play you don’t re dissect and wish you could have done a little better or done a little differently, but that’s not what you get to do,” said Franchione.
Texas State took the lead, 21-17, on the first play of the fourth quarter, a wing pass from Jones to Rob Lowe for 21 yards.
On the following drive, New Mexico State would take back the lead by converting two third and long plays that ultimately led to another Rose rushing touchdown. To cap off the win, Rose would score one last time on a 77-yard catch and run after the Texas State defense ran a cornerback blitz. That score would cement the final score, 31-21.
The game was sealed after an interception by Jones on the two-yard line and then another pick at midfield. When asked about the struggles of Jones, Franchione’s response was “I think sometimes we put too many of his struggles just on him. I think some of his struggles are protection, our receivers, multiple things. Not just him. He probably gets a little too much credit and a little too much blame when things go well.”
The Bobcats will be back at home next week, hosting the Georgia State Panthers (2-6, 1-3) next Saturday at 3 p.m.