Texas State 40, Georgia State 31: Big plays in big moments lead to a comfortable win

Photo by Tim Hutchton

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Texas State seized what may be its last clear opportunity to win a game in 2018 with an inspiring performance, including a 20-0 run in the third quarter. Here's what stood out about a win that wasn't as close as two late Georgia State touchdowns made it seem.

Well prepared

The Bobcats didn't enter Saturday's game at 2-6 because of flawless execution through the year. That's why positioning and playcalls, particularly on the defensive side, really jumped off the screen against Georgia State. Leading 13-7, Texas State held Georgia State on both 3rd-and-11 and 4th-and-11 to earn a turnover on downs. Leading 13-10, the Bobcats stuffed a 3rd-and-6 run at the 10-yard line for no gain, forcing a field goal. Still clinging to that 13-10 lead, they stuffed a run on 3rd-and-1 to force a punt in the waning moments of the first half. This was a theme that popped up throughout the game. Texas State wasn't perfect on defense, and Georgia State helped with a few mistakes, but in pivotal moments on defense, the Bobcats looked both prepared and ready to execute. 

Willie Jones III, have yourself a day

The season has seen Jones grow with each appearance, peppered around a few very promising moments from Tyler Vitt, but this was Jones' high point by far. He completed 21 of 26 passes for 326 yards and two scores, while rushing for 62 yards and another score. It wasn't just that he produced a great stat line. With so many protection issues this year, the need for the quarterback to extend plays and create opportunities with his feet has been crucial to what little success the Bobcats have had. This was the finest example, and Jones routinely strung out defenders while keeping options opend downfield, and never really forced himself into compromising throws. He connected with nine total receivers, bought time, took care of the ball, and made Georgia State pay. It was truly the sophomore from Silsbee's finest moment.

Savor this one

Heading into this week, Texas State ranked 108th in S&P+, ahead of Georgia State, who came in at 119. The Bobcats next three opponents, Appalachian State (20th), Troy (60th) and Arkansas State (79th) will all be prohibitive favorites. Upsets happen, and we play the games for a reason, but this was probably the last Texas State win of the 2018 season. It could have been better, it could have been worse. The question in a few weeks will be whether three wins is enough for Everett Withers to keep his job. For now, though, it's worth enjoying the plane ride home for a job well done. If you believe the Bobcats are headed in the right direction, this game was more evidence, particularly as part of a run of four close games (and another win against New Mexico State) leading up to now. If you don't, you'll feel the next three games will probably only strengthen your argument.

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