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Turnovers plague Bobcats in Reno, TXST falls 38-14

Texas State Football
Saturday, September 3, 2022

Texas State dropped its fifth-straight season opener on the road against Nevada, falling 38-14 to the Wolf Pack.

The Bobcats went into halftime at Mackay Stadium only trailing 14-7, but a huge momentum grab from Nevada capitalizing off Bobcat turnovers in the second half propelled the Wolf Pack to a 24-0 third quarter. The run by Nevada would ultimately end up being too much for the maroon and gold to overcome.

Redshirt junior quarterback Layne Hatcher made the first start of his Texas State career against the Wolf Pack, finishing the game with 64.7% completion rate, a 118.1 quarterback rating, 293 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Hatcher was sacked four times and faced pressure in multiple instances throughout the game. Both of Hatcher’s touchdowns were caught by sophomore receiver Ashtyn Hawkins, who led the Bobcats with 96 receiving yards and 10 receptions in Reno. Hawkins also averaged 9.6 yards per catch in the matchup.

The Bobcat running back tandem of redshirt junior Jahmyl Jeter and redshirt sophomore Calvin Hill were kept quiet by fifth-year Nevada senior Dom Peterson and the Wolf Pack’s defensive front, holding the two ball carriers to a combined 41 yards on 19 attempts and an average of 2.1 yards per carry. 

“From an offensive standpoint, it was just the inconsistencies of running the football, getting into passing downs, drops, penalties, protection mishaps or just a bad ball,” head coach Jake Spavital said. “Offensively, everybody seemed to have their moment of not doing their correct thing. And, as a play caller and a whole offensive unit, you’re searching for things that we can execute, put in play, and go. I know that’s not even close to the potential of our offense and it’s frustrating for game one.”

Defensively, redshirt junior Louisiana Tech transfer defensive lineman Levi Bell helped lead the Bobcats in tackles with 10 total and three tackles for loss. Redshirt senior linebacker Sione Tupou also contributed 10 tackles to lead the maroon and gold. Jarron “Baby J” Morris had the third-most on the team with six tackles overall and one tackle for loss.

The Nevada offense was able to find success on the ground throughout the game, but really started to take advantage when fifth-year senior Nate Cox — the tallest quarterback in the FBS standing at six-foot nine — came in and executed the read option game. Cox totaled 46 yards on eight attempts and a touchdown on the ground, but was also efficient through the air on his seven attempts posting a 71.4% completion rate with 43 yards passing. 

“Overall, I thought the defense played extremely well. (Nevada) had under 300 yards (of total offense) and the longest play of the game was a quarterback run with the two’s out there late in the game,” Spavital said. “Our defense was always in short fields and that tells me the offense was struggling and putting the defense in bad positions. And it’s tough to overcome that stuff when we are constantly shooting ourselves in the foot and putting one side of the ball in bad field position.”

A few key plays stand out for what plagued the Bobcats in their first matchup of 2022 — all being turnovers mainly in the third quarter. The ‘Cats first turnover of the night came during the first quarter from fifth-year Nevada defensive back Bentlee Sanders. Sanders intercepted Hatcher while he was trying to get the ball to redshirt senior receiver Dennis Robinson.

The rest of the mistakes came after halftime. Texas State was driving down the field a little into the third quarter when sophomore Arkansas State transfer running back Lincoln Pare was blown up on a big hit to pop the ball out, giving the Wolf Pack possession on the Bobcat 45 yard line. Nevada would go down the field in six plays and score to push the Wolf Pack’s lead to 24-7.

Hatcher got pressured on the next series deep in Bobcat territory, and Nevada once again poked the ball out on a sack attempt and recovered the ball on the Bobcats’ 20 yard line. Two plays later, fifth-year senior running back Toa Taua would score his second rushing touchdown of the game, extending the Nevada lead to 31-7.

Another two plays later, Hatcher tried to get rid of the ball under pressure — only for the ball to once again land in Sanders’ hands. Sanders returned the interception to the end zone for a touchdown to put the Wolf Pack’s lead at 38-7, essentially putting the dagger in the maroon and gold.

Texas State will look to bounce back in their home opener against Florida International (FIU) at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos on Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. The maroon and gold won last year’s matchup with the Panthers in overtime in Miami, Fl., 23-17.

“I know this game won’t define us (or) who we are, but to overcome who we are, we must stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” Spavital said. “There’s a lot of self-destructions and that’s been our Achilles’ heel forever. I don’t question their fight. I don’t question the effort. I know it’s there. There was no finger pointing on the sidelines when you could’ve easily done that on most teams. At the end of the day, we must go out and execute and stop putting ourselves in bad positions.”

San Marcos Record

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