The Bobcats rekindled their defensive effort Saturday night in a 38-7 victory, getting their first win in WAC play.
The win came on Texas State’s football Homecoming night and was the first time the Bobcats allowed seven points or less since 2009’s Homecoming game against Stephen F. Austin.
“It was a good total team win for us,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “We got a chance to play a conference game, finally, after a year and a half. I don’t know how long it will last, but we sit on top for a while. It’s a nice feeling for our players and for our program.”
The Bobcats’ 31-point triumph was their biggest margin of victory since the team defeated Texas Southern 52-18 in 2009. Texas State used 337 rushing yards, including 85 from quarterback Shaun Rutherford and 84 from running back Marcus Curry, to keep Idaho at one win on the season.
“To be able to see our O-line get some push up front, to see Marcus back in action running the ball like we know he can is just a good experience for us,” Rutherford said. “We knew he had to push the ball and run the ball, knowing that we couldn’t be one-dimensional anymore.”
Texas State racked up 519 yards of offense on 66 plays, did not turn the ball over and scored on four of their five red zone attempts. Their only holdout was on the last possession of the game when Texas State ran the clock out.
Rutherford completed 14 of 19 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Andy Erickson had 124 all-purpose yards, including a 31-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter, which gave the Bobcats a 7-0 lead. Erickson also had 76 punt return yards, which earned him WAC Player of the Week honors.
“Andy Erickson is something special returning punts, no doubt about that,” Franchione said. “It’s not easy to do what he does back there.”
However, Texas State did commit 11 penalties for 105 yards, which stalled drives, especially in the first half. The Bobcats took a seven point lead into halftime, 14-7, after two long runs by Curry were called back due to infractions.
Coming into Saturday’s tilt with the Vandals, Texas State had scored just three points against FBS opponents in the second half. The Bobcats converted their first three drives to points in the third and early fourth quarter against the Vandals.
“We knew that the responsibilities were going to be more on the running backs this week, and we’re always looking for a challenge,” Curry said. “It was fun. Because we’ve been killing them with the pass these past few weeks, we weren’t seeing ten man fronts and nine man fronts. The safeties were (further) back and it created more holes, and the lines were getting a little more push.”
Down 31-7, the Vandals were driving deep into Bobcat territory and had a chance to cut it to a two score game. That chance was thwarted by a Darryl Morris interception inside the Bobcats’ 20, and all but put the win in the Bobcats’ pocket.
“I thank God, first and foremost,” Morris said. “It was just a great feeling. I’ve got to give all the credit to the guys up front. They played a great game, phenomenal. I don’t think the quarterback was ever sitting back there comfortably. It was just great defense all night. It’s a brand new season.”
Following the interception, third string quarterback Duke DeLancellotti saw some action for the first time this season and ran in a touchdown from six yards out. It was his first official touchdown as a Bobcat, and his mother, who traveled all the way from California in hopes her son would play, got her wish and then some.
“This is the only time his mom’s got to come see him play and to get him in the game was something we wanted to do,” Franchione said. “It was a read play and everyone on the sideline said, ‘Coach, he ain’t going to hand it off,’ and then when he scored on it—it just made me feel good for our guys. You love it when your team enjoys each other’s success. That’s when you have a team. That’s what we want to have, a team that plays together.”
Texas State’s defense held Idaho to just 19 of 34 passing. The Vandals’ best rusher on the night, James Baker, had just 48 yards.
Cornerback Craig Mager led the Bobcats with eight tackles. Morris and cornerback David Mims II had the interceptions on Idaho quarterback Dominique Blackman.
The Bobcats have a bye next week.
Twitter: @ txstcamirvine