In a disappointing turn of events, the Texas State football team dropped out of bowl eligibility and lost 63-27 to Troy in their final home game of the season on Saturday at the Wack.
The loss drops the Bobcats to 3-7 and ends their long-shot journey at bowl eligibility under Head Coach Jake Spavital’s first year of leadership.
The game also marks the last time Bobcat seniors will play at the Wack, disappointing some seniors, according to senior linebacker Bryan London II.
“It’s a little bit sad,” London said. “It’s my last one being played at Jim Wacker (and) I’m a little upset. This is not how I planned on going out.”
Despite trailing 14-10 early in the second quarter, the Bobcats were unable to contain the Trojans on both sides of the ball and quickly fell hard.
In a formula that Bobcat fans have grown accustomed to in the past few weeks, Texas State held their own in first quarter and a half. The game’s first points on the board came off the foot of senior kicker Joshua Rowland in the first quarter. Rowland has been the first scorer for the Bobcats for three consecutive games.
The first Bobcat touchdown came in the middle of the second quarter off of a 21-yard run from junior running back Robert Brown Jr. to put the game at 14-10. The Troy offense quickly distanced themselves, however, and responded with 28 unanswered points.
As the defense struggled to contain the Trojan offense, the Bobcat offense reverted into their old ways, only managing 20 yards of offense following the Brown touchdown run before Rowland kicked a 35-yard field goal during the middle of the third quarter to put the game at 42-13.
The Bobcats’ offensive performance was full of ups and downs, Spavital said.
“I thought (Bobcat offense) had their moments,” Spavital said. “When you scored 27 points in a game, you know that’s not what your offense normally does, but when you are in that type of game and that style of a team, they are going to turn it into shootouts and you need to score more points.”
Although Texas State fought back to make it at 42-20 game after Tyler Vitt found Hutch White for a 35-yard touchdown pass, Troy accelerated even further, scoring three more times in the fourth quarter to end the game at 63-27.
It was a career day for Troy quarterback Kaleb Barker, who tied the Troy school record for touchdown passes in-game at six.
The same couldn’t be said for Texas State’s sophomore quarterback Tyler Vitt. Vitt made two season-highs in the game, including a season best 29 passes in 44 throws, but unfortunately suffered a season-high four interceptions as well. Vitt finished the game with 263 yards and two touchdowns, but the interceptions led to four Trojan touchdowns, including a pick-six at the end of the game.
Spavital said that the season-high interceptions stifled their energy and contributed to the loss.
“They (interceptions) killed a lot of the momentum,” Spavital said. “As an offense, we were moving the ball, but we could have been efficient with what we did. (We were) talking about 71 snaps (but) we should have about 90 snaps.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bobcats gave up 471 yards of offense to the Trojans, including 363 yards of passing from Barker.
Spavital said he was disappointed at the defense’s overall performance as well, something that hasn’t usually been the case.
“I thought that wasn’t (Texas State defense’s) standard of play,” Spavital said. “I thought they had their moments, but you can’t have 56 points scored on you. I know the defense is holding their heads down at the moment.”
The game was especially disheartening for the team’s seniors, who have been through a lot in their four seasons as Bobcats, Spavital said.
“I want to thank these seniors,” Coach Spavital said. “They have been through a lot and there are a lot of ups and downs in that locker room. That group of kids is strong and resilient, (I) just hate to see the look in their eyes. When we look back we are going to say that they built something special.”
Next up for the ‘Cats is an even heavier challenge as they hit the road for the best overall team in the Sun Belt, the Appalachian State Mountaineers. App State is favored to win by 96.9 percent under quarterback Zac Thomas’s 1,927 passing yards and 18 touchdowns to Tyler Vitt’s 1,291 yards and five touchdowns. The Mountaineers are 9-1 on the season and defeated SEC foe South Carolina 20-15 at South Carolina. App State will most likely prevail, and unless the ‘Cats improve their second-half performances, clean up their offense, and bring back their defensive strengths, the game won’t be easy to watch.
The Bobcats will go on the road next to battle with the best overall team in the Sun Belt, the Appalachian State Mountaineers, on Saturday in Boone, NC.