In a game with eight lead changes, the Texas State Bobcats lost a fourth-quarter lead to Georgia State, which claimed a 33-30 victory at Bobcat Stadium.
“I thought our kids fought hard, I thought the seniors fought hard,” said Texas State coach Everett Withers. “They made more plays than we did tonight. … I think the main thing is that we need to get some guys healthy and right now we don’t have them healthy.”
With the win, the Panthers (6-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) are currently tied with Troy (8-2, 5-1) and Appalachian State (6-4, 5-1) for the best conference record in the Sun Belt after Arkansas State (5-3, 4-1) lost to South Alabama (4-6, 3-3) on Saturday, 24-19.
Both the quarterbacks had solid performances, with Texas State quarterback Damian Williams going 35-55 for 315 yards and three touchdowns, while Georgia State quarterback Conner Manning went 26-40 for 368 yards and two scores.
The Bobcats (2-8, 1-5) got on the board first after a nine-play, 75-yard opening drive ended on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Damian Williams to Anthony Taylor.
Georgia State answered with 10 straight points in the first quarter – a 48-yard field goal by Brandon Wright and 34-yard pass from Manning to Devin Gentry – taking a 10-7 lead into the second quarter.
Senior Chris French scored the second touchdown of the day for the Bobcats on a 9-yard pass from Williams, giving the Bobcats a 14-10 lead. It was French’s first touchdown since his first collegiate game in a loss to Florida State in 2015, 59-16.
To start the third quarter, the Panthers connected on a 61-yard pass play from Manning to Penny Hart that put them inside the 10-yard line. However, on the next play, JaShon Waddy ripped the ball away from Tamir Jones at the 5-yard line, giving the ball to the Bobcats. The turnover led to a 33-yard field goal by Foster Hilborn, extending Texas State’s lead, 17-13.
The Panthers then took back the lead just before the fourth quarter after scoring a field goal and a touchdown in the third quarter, giving Georgia State a 23-17 lead. The Bobcats tied the game at the beginning of the fourth after a ball bounced off Gabe Schrade’s hands and then a defender’s helmet before being caught by Elijah King for a 34-yard touchdown. A missed extra point kept the game at 23 a piece.
Another field goal from Wright regained the lead for the Panthers with 12 minutes left, 26-23. Wright went 4-4 on field goals, making two kicks from 48 yards.
Both teams were forced to punt on their next drives, but a high snap on the Panthers’ punt attempt gave the Bobcats the ball on the 1-yard line. Running back Anthony Smith took it in from there, regaining the lead for the Bobcats, 30-26.
Georgia State took the lead right back after a methodical seven-play drive that ended on a 22-yard touchdown run by Kyler Neal, giving the Panthers a three-point lead, 33-30, with six minutes left.
The Bobcats failed to score on their final two drives, going three and out with 4:47 left and then turning the ball over on downs with 1:37 remaining.