Texas State defeated South Alabama 33-31 on Homecoming Saturday night with a 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Jason Dann with four seconds remaining in the game.
The Bobcats now have an overall record of 5-3 and stand at .500 in the Sun Belt Conference. The team is one game away from becoming bowl-eligible.
“I told the team during the pre-game meal the outcome of this game would come down to the last drive,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “We made the play needed at the end. This is such a great win for our team. I’m really proud how they all battled.”
Dann’s game-winning field goal was set up after Texas State converted on a 4th and 24 play with under a minute remaining in the game. Scrambling on the play, freshman quarterback Tyler Jones connected with junior wide receiver Ben Ijah for a 51-yard gain.
“(The) coaches told me to go out and do what I’ve been coached to do,” Jones said. “That was the approach I took to it. I didn’t want to force anything, and I wanted to make the right decision—a lot of it was instinct. I got outside and saw Ben (Ijah) got behind the defense, and I got him the ball.”
On the final Texas State drive, Jones completed four of six passes for a total of 77 yards. Junior tight end Bradley Miller committed offensive pass interference after a first down near the 46-yard line, costing the Bobcats 15 yards. Two plays later, Miller jumped offsides to tack on an additional 5-yard penalty, setting up the 4th and 24.
“His face doesn’t change,” Franchione said. “I’d hate to play poker with (Tyler Jones). He had his job to do. He knew it. He did it, and that’s what makes him a quarterback.”
In the fourth quarter, senior safety Justin Iwuji intercepted a pass by Jaguars’ quarterback Ross Metheny and returned the ball for a 29-yard touchdown. Iwuji’s interception for the second straight week gave the Bobcats a 27-17 lead with 7:39 left in the game.
South Alabama scored two touchdowns including a 43-yard pass to receiver Danny Woodson. Junior cornerback Craig Mager was on the coverage, but the over-the-shoulder catch by Woodson gave the Jaguars a 31-30 lead with 1:32 remaining in the game.
“As a defense, we just try to make plays,” Iwuji said. “We’re always learning each game, and we’re trying to build on our mistakes and get better. Younger players stepped up and made big plays today. As a defense, we were able to play pretty well tonight.”
Sophomore tight end Ryan Carden marked the first score of the night and his first career touchdown with a misdirection rollout by Jones, connecting on a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The Bobcats’ second touchdown connection came in the back left corner of the end zone where sophomore receiver Brandon Smith caught the ball. This was Smith’s first receiving touchdown of the season.
Jones threw for a career-high 218 yards, and a career long 51 yards to Ijah. Sophomore running backs Robert Lowe and Chris Nutall combined to rush for 165 yards on the ground. Texas State tied a season-high 452 yards of total offense. equaling the 452 yards against Wyoming.
Jaguars’ Woodson tallied five catches for 118 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Metheny threw for 300 yards and completed three touchdown passes for South Alabama.