By Jacob Staires
The Texas State Bobcats were matched up with the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM) on Thursday night at Jim Wacker Field in San Marcos, Texas. Texas State fell to the conference foe by a score of 24-14.
ULM defeated the ‘Cats for the fourth straight year in the second conference game of the season, moving Texas State down to 2-4 and 1-1 in conference play. With a 16-day break before Arkansas State, Jake Spavital and company will have time to rally the troops and prepare for another team that has Texas State’s number.
The excitement from two consecutive wins took a hit after the Bobcats were not able to capitalize on ULM’s mistakes. From costly penalties, to not being able to get off the field in pivotal moments, the Bobcats will continue to search for coach Spavital’s desired identity that has been out of reach. The Warhawks methodically gave the ‘Cats a steady dose of Josh Johnson and Caleb Evans, taking the momentum away several times.
Texas State’s defense gave up a season-high in passing yards to Evans who threw for 225 yards. He wasn’t able to get into the end zone, but Johnson, the eighth ranked running back in the FBS, got a pair of early touchdowns. Down 14-0, Gresch Jensen put one of the most efficient drives of the season together. Calvin Hill, the freshman running back, capped the drive off with his first career touchdown.
With the defense fighting to stay in the game by forcing two turnovers, low snaps by Reece Jordan and a late botched handoff from Jensen to Hill kept the ‘Cats from grasping a hold of the momentum. Due to concussion protocol, Jensen was knocked out of the game giving sophomore quarterback Tyler Vitt an opportunity to spark the offense. He was able to do so, connecting with freshman year roommate, Trevis “TJ” Graham, for a 62-yard touchdown reception.
Trailing 17-14 to start the forth quarter, Vitt and Hill failed to lead the offense down the field to either tie or take the lead. Hill was the lead back after Caleb Twyford, the junior running back, went down with an injury taking him out of action. Before Twyford went down, he was having the best rushing half of a Texas State running back all season, running for 20-plus yards on three separate occasions.
The Warhawks delivered the knockout punch when they executed a 13 play, 86-yard drive to push the lead to 10 with under two minutes to go. The ‘Cats had a chance to get a stop on forth-and-1 with over two minutes remaining, but Evans was able to get the Texas State defensive line to jump offsides with a crunch time hard count.
The game was out of reach for the last Texas State drive, ending with Vitt’s third interception of the season. As the seconds rolled off the clock in Bobcat Stadium, the ‘Cats certainly had time to think about the missed opportunities and costly mistakes that plagued them in the season’s halfway point.
Jake Spavital and the Bobcats will have plenty of time to prepare for Arkansas State. This comes at a favorable time for this team, coming out of week seven beat up and tired. By the time Texas State take the field again, the team will have had time to heal up for the final stretch of the campaign as Jensen leads the way. With Vitt continuing to look inconsistent and Brady McBride’s eligibility getting denied, Jensen will have to step up.
The Texas State Bobcats look to get their second win in conference play when they hit the road as they take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-3) in two weeks at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Arkansas.
You can catch all of the action for the second half of the 2019 season here on KTSW 89.9.
Featured photo by Jacob Staires.