The Bobcats (2-2) capitalized on an early interception to grab the lead against University of Nevada-Reno (4-1), but were not able to secure a victory Saturday in their 34-21 loss.
Andy Erickson, junior wide receiver, had a career-best game with eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown Sept. 29 at Bobcat Stadium. Texas State fell to Nevada 34-21.
Texas State entered the locker room at halftime with a 21-20 lead but did not score again during the second half. The offense’s inability to score or move the ball in the final two quarters destroyed any hope of beating a Nevada football team that has been to seven straight bowl games.
“I don’t know if (Nevada) did anything different,” said Coach Dennis Franchione about the second half. “We did not play as well. We’ve had our second-half problems. To beat a team like Nevada, we have to make plays in the second half.”
The Bobcats finished with 254 yards of total offense. They gained just 83 total yards and 18 rushing in the second half. Stalled drives plagued Texas State, as it only reached the first-down marker six times after the half. The Bobcats crossed over into Nevada’s territory just twice in the second half. Other than reaching the 47-yard line once, they had a drive in the final quarter that resulted in a failed fourth-down try on the Wolf Pack’s 6-yard line . They were sacked a play later.
The contest featured two polar-opposite run games with drastically different results. Nevada is among the nation’s leaders in several offensive categories, rushing for 273 yards against the Bobcats.
For the second straight week, the Bobcats struggled to rush the ball as effectively as they had against Houston (248 yards), finishing the contest with 68 yards total. That amount gives them the lowest for the year by more than 60 yards (129 vs. Texas Tech). The rushing game had only 2.3 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford enjoyed a solid game in terms of completion percentage (68.8), but the passing game could not pick up the slack from the lackluster rushing. Rutherford had 143 yards on 15-22 passing, two touchdowns and zero interceptions, but was replaced by junior quarterback Tyler Arndt in the fourth quarter.
Arndt, who came in relief with more than eight minutes remaining in the fourth, could not add any explosiveness to the offense, registering 43 yards on 3-12 passing. The Bobcats gained a potential threat in the passing attack with junior wide receiver Andy Erickson (8 rec, 108 yards, TD).
“We put ourselves in a good position at halftime,” Erickson said. “We didn’t come out in the second half like we were in the first. It seems like we can’t execute like we do in the first half. It weighs on you. It’s a consecutive thing so it’s something we need to definitely focus on.”
The Bobcats’ passing game averaged 5.5 yards per completion. Nevada averaged the same amount in yards per rushing attempt. The deep passing plays were there on several occasions, but Rutherford and Arndt were unable to successfully complete them.
The Bobcats’ defense was on the field for 84 plays against the Wolf Pack, which affected the unit late in the game. The number of plays is the second most on the season to SFA, with 96. Texas State offense ran a total of 63 plays.
The Nevada rushing attack was bolstered by two of the nation’s top 20 rushers. Stefphon Jefferson was its leading rusher with 178 yards on the ground, and quarterback Cody Fajardo added 98 and a touchdown. The threat of both backs running the football out of the pistol formation proved a challenge to the Bobcats’ defense.
“We knew (Fajardo) could sling it a bit,” said junior safety Justin Iwuji. “He’s a good runner as well. He showed that all day. He’s a good quarterback. Nevada’s a good team. He made good throws today, and I don’t want to take anything away from him.”
The Wolf Pack opened up its offense in the second half and started passing the ball more, especially deep down the field. Fajardo was 12-18 for 171 yards in the second half. Wide receiver Brandon Wimberley was his main target. Wimberley caught six passes for 135 yards, including a long of 44.
The Bobcats’ defensive line was able to get into the backfield at times against the Nevada offense (three tackles for loss) but for the third straight game, no sacks were recorded.
Texas State will move on to the University of New Mexico, which will be their first road contest since week one when the Bobcats defeated the University of Houston 30-13.