Texas State football defeated the Houston Cougars in their first ever FBS game 30-13 in front of 32,207 fans at Robertson Stadium, the second biggest crowd in the venue’s history, which dates back to 1942.
“I’m just really proud of our players and happy and proud for our university, fans students and administration that’s had such great vision for us to make a move like this [to the FBS],” Coach Dennis Franchione said. “The coaches put together a wonderful game plan on both sides of the football.”
The Bobcats used a balanced attack (248 rushing yards, 196 passing yards) and held the nation’s No. 1 offense from last year to 326 total yards of offense and just one touchdown — a 64-yard pass to wide receiver Larry McDuffey.
“We gave up the one big play, but if you take that one big play off the board we held them to less than 300 yards of offense,”Franchione said. “The defense answered the bell every time.”
Quarterback Shaun Rutherford finished one of his most complete games as a starter with 189 yards passing, one touchdown and zero interceptions, on 18 out of 24 completions. Running back Marcus Curry had a career high in rushing yards with 131 on 14 carries. One hundred and twenty eight of those yards came in the first half, which tied his career high. Curry scored all three touchdowns for the Bobcats in the game.
“[The first touchdown] kind of sent a statement that we were here to stay and were here to make a mark for ourselves,” Curry said. “The offensive line was just opening up the holes, the coaches had a great plan and I was just executing. Everyone was executing.”
Texas State scored on their first two drives to take a 14-3 lead. Holding the Bobcats to just eight total yards in the first seven minutes of the third quarter, Houston had a chance to cut the deficit to 27-20, 10 yards away from a touchdown. But Houston quarterback David Piland was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback Craig Mager — a key play in the game that kept momentum on the side of the Bobcats.
“I don’t think that they really stopped us,” Houston quarterback David Piland said. “I feel we hindered ourselves. We didn’t get into a tempo. We weren’t running as fast as we could have. Our offense just wasn’t working how it should have worked. I feel we stopped ourselves.”
The Bobcat offense took 43:09 of possession, forcing the Cougars’ offense to the sideline most of the game. Texas State turned over the ball only once, on a Tim Gay fumble, and held the Cougars to 1 out of 13 on third-down conversions.
Gay, besides the fumble, provided second-half energy as a change-of-pace back, with 52 yards on five carries. Wide receiver Isaiah Battle led the Bobcats’ receiving core with 75 yards on five receptions. Kicker Will Johnson made three out of four field goals, a career high of Johnson’s for field goals made in a game. Safety Xavier Daniels led the defense with six solo tackles.
“As a defense, we decided to put the team on our back. It was all up to us,” cornerback Craig Mager said. “The offense put up a lot of points in the first half. We had to do our part too.”
With the win, Texas State moves to 1-0 on the season.
Texas State was a 36-point underdog coming into the game and despite the big win, Franchione knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“I came back here to try to put this program in good standing in FBS and to compete and be competitive,” Franchione said. “To get off to this kind of start right here is big. We still have a lot of good teams ahead of us. We found a way to get a win tonight but we still have a long way to go.”
For the Cougars, the loss was only their second in the last two seasons, following a 13-1 2011 campaign.
“We’re looking to just come back tomorrow and work on the things we need to fix,” Houston coach Tony Levine said. “And that’s across the board. So we’re going to make some decisions. Am I discouraged? Absolutely. Am I disappointed? Absolutely.”
The Bobcats’ next task, the Red Raiders, comes to town after a resounding victory over Northwestern State over the weekend. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. and is expected to be a sellout, including in the temporary seating in the south end zone.
“We’re just going out here and earning our respect from everybody,” Curry said. “It’s going to be really exciting to play Texas Tech at home. We’re really looking forward to it.”