Texas State captured its first-ever Sun Belt Conference win Saturday with a 24–17 victory over the Georgia State Panthers, gaining a season-high 296 yards on the ground.
Sophomore running back Robert Lowe earned Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Week with his performance against the Panthers. The running back from Waxahachie has now registered four 100-yard rushing games on the season. He finished with a career-high 177 yards in the game and one touchdown. Lowe averaged 8.4 yards per carry on the night with a game-high rush of 59 yards.
“It felt real good,” Lowe said. “I feel really comfortable out there. My line is blocking good, giving me places to run. It’s more important that we got the win.”
Sophomore running back Chris Nutall accumulated 90 yards and scored two touchdowns. Nutall is second in touchdowns scored this year for the Bobcats with six, one behind Lowe. Texas State is 3–1 this season when rushing for more than 200 yards.
“I think Rob (Lowe) can’t make those yards if the guys up front don’t get those yards,” said Coach Dennis Franchione. “Hopefully that’ll be a good sign that our line is growing and coming together. We’ve played seven games now and hopefully that’s going to continue. Rob is good at finding seams. If we can create one, he can find it. That’s one of his strengths.”
Collectively the running backs accounted for 296 yards rushing, the highest the Bobcats ran for this season. Texas State only lost 5 yards from the running backs on 30 carries.
“They’re good running backs,” said Panther Coach Trent Miles. “They’re well coached, they’re physical runners, and they’re as good as we’re going to face.”
On the first play of the game, Georgia State senior wide receiver Albert Wilson converted for a 47-yard run on a motion sweep to the left side of the field. Wilson attacked the Bobcat defense from every angle, registering 93 yards receiving, 39 yards on kick returns and 14 yards on punt returns.
With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats registered their only turnover of the night by senior safety Justin Iwuji. Iwuji intercepted sophomore quarterback Ronnie Bell and returned it to the Georgia State 18-yard line. Bell ended with 208 yards passing, including a touchdown.
“(That was a) big interception by Justin Iwuji,” Franchione said. “That was our only turnover that we got on the night. They don’t turnover the ball. We got the one that proved to be huge.”
Senior linebacker Damion McMiller set a career-high 15 tackles and led both teams in tackles for the night. The 17 points given up by Texas State were the least since the home-opener against Prairie View A&M. The Panthers scored 3 points in the contest.
“It was not only a big win for our team but a big win for the program,” McMiller said. “It showed we are a force to be reckoned with in the Sun Belt. If everyone comes to work, we believe, you will see a lot more Sun Belt wins out of us.”
Junior kicker Will Johnson earned Sun Belt Conference Special Teams Player of the Week. Johnson averaged 44 yards a punt on four tries and 65 yards per kickoff attempt.