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Photo provided by Texas State Athletics/Billy Spiller

Turnovers, penalties hurt Bobcats in loss to Rutgers

Texas State Football
Saturday, September 1, 2018

Texas State dropped its season opener to Rutgers, 35-7, on Saturday inside HighPoint.com Stadium in Piscataway N.J. 

The Bobcats kept pace with the Scarlet Knights in the opening half. But turnovers and penalties began to wear down on Texas State’s chance to pull off an upset over a Big Ten opponent. 

Rutgers took a 21-0 lead into the half. Texas State scored its lone touchdown of Saturday’s contest when sophomore cornerback Kordell Rodgers intercepted a pass from Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski. Rodgers took the interception 51 yards for a Pick 6 to cut the Scarlet Knight advantage down to 21-7. But Rutgers pulled away with two touchdowns to secure the 28-point win. 

The Scarlet Knights set the tone on their first possession. Rutgers took the opening drive 71 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown, which was capped off by a 9-yard run by sophomore Raheem Blackshear. 

Texas State put together a promising 15-play, 59-yard drive during its first possession. But Rutgers blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt by freshman Chris Kessler. 

The Scarlet Knights added to their lead on the next drive with a 3-yard run by graduate senior Jonathan Hilliman.

Texas State sophomore quarterback Willie Jones III gave Rutgers the ball back on the following possession with an interception.

Later in the second quarter, Rutgers took a 21-0 lead after a Jones fumble gave the Scarlet Knights the ball at the Bobcat 3. Rutgers took advantage of Texas State’s misfortune with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Sitkowski to Blackshear. 

The Bobcats recorded their first interception since the 2016 season late in the first half when freshman Jarron Morris intercepted a pass in the endzone. Texas State, however, couldn’t take advantage of the turnover and entered the half down 21-0. 

But the Bobcats gave themselves life after Rodgers’ pick-six to cut Rutgers’ lead down to 21-7. 

The Scarlet Knights responded with a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive, which ended with an 8-yard run by Hilliman to push their lead out to 28-7. 

Rutgers scored its final touchdown of the day when Texas State freshman quarterback Tyler Vitt couldn’t catch the snap, which flew into the endzone. The Scarlet Knights fell on the ball for the touchdown to take the 35-7 lead. 

Texas State begins the 2018 campaign with its first season-opening loss under head coach Everett Withers. 

The Bobcats were outgained 423-169. Texas State won the turnover battle 4-3. But the Bobcats committed more penalties with 15 for 119 yards. 

Texas State returns to action Saturday, Sept. 8 against Texas Southern inside Bobcat Stadium at    6 p.m.