Bobcat offense finds footing behind Jones

Texas State Football

LAFAYETTE, Louisiana — Willie Jones III sparked a lethargic Texas State offense against Louisiana on Thursday even if it was just for two quarters. 

Jones, the freshman quarterback from Beaumont who attended Silsbee High School, led the Bobcats down the field during the second and third quarters. He showed off his speed and elusiveness in the running game, and found a rhythm in his passes. 

“(Jones) was just making plays for us,” sophomore running back Anthony D. Taylor said. “I’m really proud of Willie. He did a really good job (Thursday night) ... I’m really proud of the effort.” 

But he also made freshman errors, none worse than an interception thrown on 3rd and Goal at the Ragin’ Cajun 7-yard line late in second quarter trailing Louisiana, 14-0. In the third quarter, Jones had the ball stripped out of his hand as he was winding up to pass, which led to a Ragin’ Cajun field goal to put them on top 17-7. Texas State lost 24-7. 

“(Jones’ performance) was up and down, not very consistent,” head coach Everett Withers said. “But it’s something to build on for the future.”

The Bobcats (1-6, 0-3 Sun Belt) were already trailing Louisiana (3-3. 2-1), 14-0, when they called upon Jones. Texas State’s defense gave up an easy four-play, 80-yard drive on Louisiana’s first drive. Fifth-year senior quarterback Damian Williams fumbled for the third-straight week on the Bobcats’ second drive leading to another Ragin’ Cajun touchdown. 

There wasn’t much to lose and inserting Jones proved to be beneficial on his first drive of the game. 

The 6-foot-3 signal-caller settled into his passes with completions to freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel and sophomore wide receiver Hutch White. The running game with Jones, Taylor and redshirt freshman running back Robert Brown, Jr. moved Texas State to the Ragin’ Cajun 30. But Louisiana snuffed out a 4th-and-inches quarterback sneak to force a turnover on downs.

On his second drive, Jones recorded two 20-yard runs, but the Bobcats were forced to punt. 

Jones took the Bobcats all the way down to the Ragin’ Cajun 7 on his third possession with an 18-yard pass to White and a 40-yard completion to senior wide receiver Elijah King. But Jones made a poor decision on 3rd and goal. Rolling to his right, Jones cut to his left looking to escape a collapsed pocket. He tried to force a tight throw to sophomore wide receiver Thurman Morbley but Louisiana senior defensive back Tracy Walker undercut the route and intercepted Jones’ pass. 

In the 3rd quarter, Jones was able to connect with Morbley on a 49-yard pass to get Texas State deep into Ragin’ Cajun territory. Texas State finally got on the board when Taylor scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run.

But that’d be the only possesion the Bobcats would find the endzone on as they lost their sixth-consecutive game this season. 

Despite the loss, sophomore defensive end Jordan Mittie said seeing the offense under Jones got him and the defense excited. 

“(Jones) definitely came out and brought a lot of energy to the offense,” Mittie said. 

Jones finished 12-of-18 passing with 197 yards and ran the ball 14 times for a team-high 58 yards. 

“(Jones’ running ability is) kind of what envisioned when we signed him,” Withers said. 

But Jones also had an interception and a fumble. 

Despite the turnovers, Jones gave life to an offense looking for consistent success. Jones showed what a future offense led by him could look like. 

And after Thursday’s game, maybe the future is now. 

San Marcos Daily Record

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