So a team projected to finish last in the whole nation by ESPN’s football power index facing the reigning co-champions of the Sun Belt should get blown out like Huey’s hair from Boondocks or Gossamer from Looney Tunes hair, right? Nah, son. Not last night.
A week after being as aggressive as a whippet puppy in a bubble bath in terms of offensive play calling, the Bobcats ran and passed with determination and matched their defensive counterparts against a stacked Appalachian State team complete with an electric defense and sound but powerful offense. But in the end the defending champs came away with a win to start off Sun Belt play.
The first half was all Texas State as the Bobcats running attack opened up the passing game with Bobcat quarterback Damien Williams finding receiver Mason Hays for a 49 yard rainbow pass to give the ‘Cats an early lead.
Bryan London, Hal Vinson and Gabe Loyd kept the powerful Mountaineer offense in check holding App State to 2.2 yards a carry in the first half and no third down conversions until 2:31 left in the second quarter. Texas State defensive line penetration disrupted Taylor Lamb’s rhythm and held Sun Belt offensive player of the year Jalin Moore to 14 yards on nine carries as they carried a 10-7 surprise lead into halftime.
The second half rolled around and the Mountaineers went on a run of their own as Taylor Lamb found his footing, finding his receivers and making plays with his feet to lead the Mountaineers to a field goal and a Terrence Upshaw plowing run from one-yard out to put App State ahead 17 points. Thorpe Award watchlist candidate cornerback Clifton Duck and the rest of the Mountaineer defense clamped down on the ‘Cats offense to lead a 17-0 run.
After a Texas State field goal miss by James Sherman and an ill-timed Damien Williams interception, the Mountaineers marched down to the Texas State three-yard line looking to put the game away until Taylor Lamb fumbled on a hit by safety A.J. Krawczyk giving the Bobcats one last chance. Texas State’s passing attack came alive as Damien Williams looked like the late, great Steve McNair at times eluding tacklers and making plays with his feet to find his receivers. Ironically the McNair comparison was relived as a pass from the Mountaineer seven-yard line to receiver Elijah King came up one-yard short ala Kevin Dyson in Super Bowl XXXIV as time ran out giving Appalachian State a 20-13 win.
The Mountaineers proved that champions win by any means necessary and ran pass Texas State with a second-half surge for their first conference win of the year. Texas State, still looking for their first Sun Belt win since October of 2015 saw Williams reach career highs of 260 yards passing and another 46 yards on the ground with Elijah King adding 112 yards receiving. Even though he had modest stats of 167 yards passing and 42 yards rushing, quarterback Taylor Lamb found a way to win and the defense held up.
Next up for Appalachian State is a clash with P5 foe Wake Forest next week amd for the Bobcats it’s a rivalry game against the UTSA Roadrunners.