Following a two-game win streak, the Bobcats fell to the Appalachian State Mountaineers 38-7 Saturday afternoon, eliminating the team from bowl contention.
After what seemed like a promising first drive, quarterback Willie Jones III was sidelined on the fifth play of the game. During the opening drive, Jones and the Bobcat offense were able to drive all the way to the Appalachian State 33-yard line. After an 11-yard gain, Jones took a big hit and fumbled the ball. Jones was seen on the sideline in a sling and did not return for the remainder of the game.
True freshman Tyler Vitt stepped up in place of Jones at quarterback. Facing the Mountaineer’s nationally ranked defense, the offense was unable to score any points until the fourth quarter. Vitt went 17-28 and had 106 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Bobcats gained late-stage momentum after Vitt threw a touchdown pass to graduate tight end Keenen Brown in the middle of the third quarter. Brown was the leading receiver in the game with 44 yards receiving with seven catches and one touchdown.
Sophomore Jeremiah Haydel said while Vitt’s appearance in the game may not have been expected, his on-field production and leadership were.
“[Vitt’s] a gamer, he gets into that rhythm himself,” Haydel said. “He just does what he needs to do and he’s a leader behind that offensive line.”
The defense had a rough day defending Appalachian State’s quarterback Zac Thomas. Returning from a head injury two games ago, Thomas shined against the Bobcat defense, completing 25-36 for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas converted a few critical third and longs with his feet, taking advantage of linebacker Bryan London II being out of the first half because of a targeting penalty from the Georgia State game last week. Cornerback JaShon Waddy was also out with an apparent injury, cause and severity unknown.
The Bobcats turned the ball over to the Mountaineers three times, with an interception in the red zone and two lost fumbles. Two of the turnovers turned into touchdowns for the Mountaineers. Head coach Everett Withers said the team failed to convert on third downs, which ultimately cost the team the game.
“Anytime you play a really good football team, you have to convert on third downs,” Withers said. “You can’t turn the ball over, especially two turnovers in (their) territory. Anytime you play a really talented football team (like) that, you’re not going to win.”
Appalachian State controlled much of the tempo in the game. In the third quarter, Thomas led the Mountaineers offense to 17-play drive that ended with a 29-yard field goal by Chandler Staton to bleed out much of the clock into the fourth quarter. Appalachian State’s time-of-possession was 33:36, and Texas State’s was 26:24.
The dreams of a bid for a postseason bowl appearance came to an end for the Bobcats as they fell to 3-7 for the season. Despite this, Withers and players, like cornerback Anthony Taylor, said they weren’t going to quit.
“We still have something we can fight for,” Taylor said. “If you have any pride about yourself, you’re not just going to fold and we still have a lot of fight left in us.”
With only two games remaining, Texas State will fight for momentum going into the offseason. Texas State boasts one of the youngest rosters in the country to build on for next season.
The Bobcats are back in action next Saturday in Alabama against the Troy University Trojans. The Bobcat close out the season Nov. 24 with a home game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves.