The third quarter is not the charm for the Texas State football team.
Texas State’s ran 11 plays for negative six yards in the third quarter, continuing its track record of stumbling after the first half.
Opponents have outscored Texas State 59-10 in the third quarter since Prairie View A&M. The offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in that span, with Brandon Smith’s 95-yard kickoff return representing the only touchdown.
“The offense has laid an egg in both third quarters,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “They haven’t moved the ball.”
Tyler Jones, junior quarterback, led a seven play, 68-yard touchdown drive to begin the game.
From there, it was pretty much downhill.
Rob Lowe and Chris Nutall failed to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark. Jafus Gaines finished with one catch for 13 yards. He entered the game with team-highs in receptions (19) and receiving yards (233).
Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense settled in eventually and Jones’ productivity decreased.
Part of what makes Jones a difficult quarterback to stop is his improvisation ability, which manifested itself in his 31-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. He found a seam between the tackles and patiently followed his blockers until he reached the end zone.
The downside occurred in the third quarter when Jones tried to make something out of nothing. Louisiana-Lafayette was pressuring Jones and he flung a backwards pass to Lowe, who wasn’t prepared for the throw.
Louisiana-Lafayette recovered the ball and scored another touchdown to take a 14-point lead.
Jones giveth, Jones taketh away.
“When those plays happen, sometimes they are no, no, no and yes, yes, yes or yes, yes, yes and no, no, no,” Franchione said. “That was just an unfortunate play.”
Nutall out for the season: To make matters worse, Texas State’s offense lost Nutall for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.
Prior to his injury, Nutall had 50 yards on seven carries against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Defensive gains: Louisiana-Lafayette finished with 49 points, right below Texas State’s season mark of 49.5
Ignore that statistic for a quick second. For an entire half of football, the Bobcats defense wasn’t one of the worst units in the country.
Louisiana-Lafayette still finished with 526 total yards – including 259 in the first half – but the difference was in Texas State’s defense on third and fourth down.
The Ragin Cajuns’ had two opportunities on fourth down and failed both times. Louisiana-Lafayette converted on two of nine opportunities on third and fourth down during the first half.
Gone were the missed tackles and the blown coverages that put Texas State among the worst defenses in the country.
There was real improvement Saturday night – for one half at least.
“We made some improvement on defense,” Franchione said. “We’re still not the best defense in the world but we looked a lot better.”