By Erinn Dow and Audrey Pasillas
SAN MARCOS, Texas —The Bobcats are off to their best start of the season since 2013 going 3-1, while receiving their first Mountain West Conference win since 2013. The last time the two teams faced each other at Bobcat Stadium was in 2012, which was the Bobcats’ first season at the FBS level.
The Texas State Bobcats came into this game with high morale after coming off a 43-point win against Jackson State. Nevada, led by coach Ken Wilson, came into the game 0-3, looking for their first win of the season. Last Saturday, Nevada fought hard to win- tying the game three times but ultimately came up short.
Nevada started the game with a field goal on their opening drive. Texas State had a couple of opportunities to score but fell short each time. One of the Bobcats’ golden chances quickly ended when Nevada’s K.K. Meier returned a 98-yard pick-six. The last time Nevada scored off a pick-six occurred last season when Bentley Sanders intercepted Layne Hatcher for a 34-yard touchdown. Wolfpack running back Zac Welch was able to recover an offensive fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Texas State started to get their rhythm going with an interception forced by senior cornerback Kaleb Ford-Dement. The team appeared fired up and ready to fight back though the first half ended with a forced fumble by Wolfpack linebacker Eli’jah Winston.
Going into half-time, coaches and players expressed that there was no panic in the Texas State locker room. Head Coach G.J. Kinne said during halftime, “We’re only going to get so many possessions in the second; on offense, we have to score every time we get the ball, and on defense, just go out there and do your job. When we do our job and just go out there with effort, we can do this.”
Senior linebacker Brian Holloway spoke briefly about Nevada’s first-half offense. “It was what we expected,” Holloway said. “They’re going to try to run the ball and try to get the ball to their star wide receiver, and their execution was keeping them from getting where they wanted to be.”
The game script completely flipped in the second half resulting in a tremendous comeback by the Bobcats. Junior wide receiver Joey Hobert fired up the second half with a 25-yard reception from quarterback TJ Finley. With 3:42 left in the third quarter, Finley found wide receiver Kole Wilson for a 77-yard strike- making it the longest pass play by Texas State since 2018. Nevada’s offense struggled with many fumbles — some recovered by Texas State. This caused the atmosphere in the stadium to flip; the fans got behind the team with thunderous cheers, the band got louder and the team seemed hungrier.
The game was full of penalties from both sides. At the end of the third quarter, the Bobcats had suffered 75 yards lost to penalties.
“It’s still the beginning of the season,” Holloway said. “We just need to pay attention to the details and be more aware of the little things that can almost cost you the game, and that is nothing new to us. We are going to get it together, and we will be playing better next week for sure.”
Coach Kinne took time to address the defense. “Man, I am really proud of those guys,” Kinne said. “They didn’t give up; they came out there in the second half and got some big-time turnovers. Those guys played with a lot of heart, and it showed [and] I’m just really happy for those guys.”
Ismail Mahdi had a record-breaking night, scoring two rushing touchdowns. The sophomore back had 216 yards on the ground and garnered 40 yards through the air. Every game Ismail wears a pendant around his neck of his mom who passed away when he was in high school. Mahdi said his mom was definitely looking over him last night and would be very proud to see the work of the Bobcats and her son.
Mahdi credited all of his rushing yards to the offensive line. “They did a great job up front trying to make plays for me,” Mahdi said. “All I had to do was move fast.”
When asked what it is about executing this offense that makes everything go right, Mahdi responded, “That’s how offense is. When everyone is doing their job, that is when the explosive stuff happens.”
“Doing your job” was the common theme in this game. We clearly saw that Texas State was prepared to do their job in the second half — and that they did. Looking towards next week, Texas State will need to be prepared to do their job again when they face Southern Mississippi.
Written by: Preethi Mangadu