Running back Ismail Mahdi accounted for four total touchdowns, including a opening 100-yard kickoff return in the Bobcats 50-36 win over Southern Miss.
Photo provided by Texas State Athletics
The Bobcat defense held Southern Miss to only 10 points in the first half in Texas State’s 50-36 win.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats stifle Southern Miss comeback for third straight win and best start since 2005
Despite giving up 26 unanswered points in the second half, Texas State nabbed their first conference win of the season , with a 50-36 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
The win gives the Bobcats their first three-game winning streak since 2013, which is the best start in team history since 2005.
“Really proud of the guys,” Head Coach G.J. Kinne said.
“A win is a win and it’s especially hard to win on the road in college football against a quality opponent. I thought we started out really fast which was the emphasis all week. Obviously, the second half was weird, when you are up by that much when you are on the road. We had some guys banged up, so I wanted to make sure they were healthy with the lead in hand. But that’s my fault and we will continue to be aggressive from here on out.”
Texas State kicked the game off with a bang, as running back Ismail Mahdi returned the opening kickoff 100 yards, to put the Bobcats up 7-0.
The momentum continued to swing in the Bobcats’ favor, as on the opening possession for Southern Miss, the Bobcats forced a turnover on a tipped interception caught by Brian Holloway at the Golden Eagle 21-yard line.
Texas State scored on the following possession, as quarterback T.J. Finley hit receiver Kole Wilson for the five-yard score to go up 14-0.
Forcing a USM punt, the Bobcats drove the ball down to the Golden Eagle three-yard line, before Mahdi scored his first rushing touchdown of the game, to put the Bobcats up 21-0.
Following a Southern Miss field goal, Texas State struck again, as Finley hit receiver Joey Hobert for the five-yard touchdown pass, to give the Bobcats a 28-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Southern Miss answered back with a touchdown drive of their own before Mahdi scored two more rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
Heading into halftime, Texas State led 42-10.
Southern Miss scored on their opening possession to cut the deficit down to 42-16.
Following a Texas State punt, Southern Miss drove down inside the Texas State five-yard line.
But the Bobcat defense held firm, stuffing the Golden Eagles on fourth down and giving the ball back to the offense.
In one of the craziest plays of the season, Finley looked like he was taking the sack on third down near the end-zone.
But at the last possible second, Finley pitched the shovel pass to Mahdi who ran 96 yards towards the end-zone.
However, a Southern Miss defender popped the ball out before Mahdi crossed the goal line forcing the ball out of the back of the end-zone for the touch-back.
The Golden Eagles capitalized on the turnover, driving 75 yards before scoring to make it a 42-23 game.
On the next possession, the Bobcats fumbled the ball giving it back to Southern Miss.
The Golden Eagles scored again as the lead was cut down to 42-29 as the Bobcats stuffed the 2-point conversion.
The Golden Eagles forced another punt leading to a Southern Miss touchdown as the lead was now one possession at 4236.
Again, the Bobcats were unable to garner any offensive momentum ending the drive on a punt.
Southern Miss looked to take their first lead of the game but had the ball at their own 12-yard line.
Despite the Golden Eagles gaining a first down, the Bobcat defense came up with their biggest stop of the second half by snuffing out the USM pass play to give the ball back to the offense.
The Bobcats responded with a touchdown as quarterback Malik Hornsby scored on the zone read on third down from 14 yards out.
The 2-point conversion by receiver Drew Donley made it a 50-36 game as the Bobcats came away with the win.
Texas State travels on the road next Saturday against Louisiana.
cmcwilliams@ sanmarcosrecord.om Twitter: @ColtonBMc