If there is a bright spot in the dark cloud of Texas State’s 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe, it was that the Bobcats at least played the kind of football that had earned them three wins in their first four games of this season.
The Bobcats — especially the defense — battled, executed and played hard against ULM, unlike the week before when Texas State was dominated from start to finish at Louisiana-Lafayette.
The swagger and attention to fundamentals that defined the Bobcats in September returned against ULM, but a series of mistakes, both physical and mental, ended up to be too much to overcome.
“I am proud of the way my team responded and got back to Bobcat football after the way we played in Lafayette,” Bobcats coach Dennis Franchione said Tuesday. “The team that played in Lafayette was like impostors in our uniforms, but we learned from that and played much better this week. That’s what makes this loss so hard to swallow.”
The Bobcats (3-3 overall, 0-2 in the Sun Belt) spotted ULM two touchdowns — both pick-six touchdown returns by Warhawks safety Isaiah Newsome, who intercepted freshman quarterback Tyler Jones both times. Jones’ second pick prompted Franchione to pull him in favor of Tyler Arndt, the senior who started the first three games.
Arndt, aided by Robert Lowe’s 140 rushing yards, led Texas State’s comeback bid.
For a brief few minutes late in the game, the Bobcats had everything going their way. Having just scored a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game, Aaron Matthews intercepted ULM’s Brayle Brown and returned it to Texas State’s 48-yard line.
But then all the Bobcats had worked so hard for three-and-a-half quarters to achieve disappeared. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Andy Erickson — his second in the fourth quarter — cost valuable yards and resulted in Erickson’s ejection. On second down from his own 41-yard line, Arndt passed deep down the right sideline for Ben Ijah, but the pass was dropped and the Bobcats eventually had to punt.
ULM then drove the field in 14 plays, using all but 13 seconds of the clock, for the winning score.
The Bobcats surrendered only 192 total yards, but 75 of those came on ULM’s final decisive march.
“We had some missed assignments and missed tackles on that last drive, and it really hurt us,” cornerback Xavier Daniels said. “It was a bad time to have those breakdowns, but we understand a lot more now after these two games what it takes to win a game in this league.”
Etc.: Senior defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, a transfer from TCU, saw his first action of the season, played 38 snaps and was credited with three tackles. … The Bobcats amassed a whopping 15 penalties for 156 yards (both season highs) against ULM, including three for pass interference. … The two teams were a combined 3-for-25 on third-down conversions (the Bobcats were 1-for-12).
Texas State vs. Georgia State, 6 p.m. Saturday, Bobcat Stadium, 1260, 89.9, 92.5