The (1-1) Texas State Bobcats took on the University of Incarnate Word (1-1) on September 18, 2021, in what was their second matchup in their schools’ history.
The two teams battled it out in a game that many believed were going to be an easy contest for the Bobcats. Coming in as (-11) point favorites in addition to ESPN.com giving Texas State a 94-percent chance at victory, the Bobcats did not take care of business against what should have been an inferior opponent.
“I thought they outplayed us in all facets of the game,” Spavital said. “That’s a tough loss for our program right there.”
Texas State was expected to win this game by a significant margin, but in the game of college football, there are no “give-me” games. The Cardinals proved to be an opponent to not take lightly, as they’ve outplayed Texas State in certain position groups leading up to Saturday’s contest.
“I think it is an embarrassing loss,” Spavital said.
Entering tonight’s contest, the quarterback battle between the two opposing signal-callers was not as distinct as the spread, as both QB’s faired similarly according to the advanced statistics.
Incarnate Word’s QB, Cameron Ward, was given a passing grade of 62.5 from Pro Football Focus while committing three turnover-worthy plays on the year. He had yet to throw an interception entering this game, as he threw for nearly 600 yards and seven touchdowns over two weeks of play.
Texas State’s signal-caller, Brady McBride, was given a passing grade of just over 53 from the site, with four turnover-worthy plays on the season. He entered Saturday’s game throwing over 320 yards on the year, accompanied by two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The second-year starter overcame adversity in last week’s win against FIU, as he is looking to string together impressive performances after a season-opening loss against Baylor.
This was the third game of the season for both programs, with Texas State having a home record of (0-1) prior to this game, while UIW had a road record of (0-1) after a tough week one loss to Youngstown State.
The game began with a Texas State touchback, as UIW started the game with the ball in the first half. After a quick strike to #83, Trevor Begue, the Cardinals punted on their next set of downs, giving Texas State the football at their own 12-yard line.
Texas State followed the Cardinals lead, after their first passing play of the night went for a first down. Their drive looked to be over as they punted on their next set of downs but ultimately gained possession back after #34 Kenny Haynes recovered the Cardinals’ muffed punt.
The Bobcats inevitably took advantage of supreme field position, as McBride’s first third down of the night came on a 23-yard strike to Seth Caillouet. Two plays later, from the Cardinals three-yard line, running back Jahmyl Jeter put the Bobcats on the board by a score of 7-0.
It was not over as the Cardinals fired back through the air. QB Cameron Ward torched both man and zone coverage against the Cats, walking them down the field as #4 Kevin Brown finished the drive with a rushing score. The ball game was all tied up by a score of 7-7.
The Bobcats looked to build off of their scoring drive after Jahmyl Jeter returned the kickoff to Texas State’s 43-yard line, but after one first down, the Bobcats found themselves on the edge of field goal range. On 4th and 6, Texas State called a QB Draw for Brady McBride and they failed to convert, giving UIW the ball on their own 37 yard-line.
The Cardinals fired back, going 63 yards and scoring on a wide receiver screen to Robert Ferrel. The unsung hero of that drive was Reid Francis, who had two key blocks on the UIW drive, ultimately ending with his crucial seal that led to springing Francis free into the end-zone. UIW was up 14-7 after the first quarter came to a close.
Texas State fourth’s drive of the game started at their own 22-yard line, as the Cats clawed their way back from their seven-point deficit. McBride dealt the football, converting multiple first downs through the air. The drive was capped off by Jahmyl Jeter visiting the end-zone once more, tying this game up at 14-all with nine minutes left in the first half.
UIW looked to have hit the Bobcats back with a score of their own, as they were deep in the red zone before Drake Johnson and Michael LoVett II combined to force a fumble at the goal-line.
The biggest play of the half for the Bobcats by far, as the Cardinals were having their way offensively. The fumble was recovered by Chris Mills inside the end-zone for a touchback, giving the Bobcats the ball at their own 20-yard line.
The Bobcats looked to close their offensive outing in the first half with a 33-yard kick splitting the uprights. The 11 play drive took four minutes off the clock, as McBride and company cashed in on what was a costly turnover by UIW.
Their offensive half of football was over until it wasn’t. On first down entering Texas State territory, Cameron Ward had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage that fell into the lap of Zion Childress. His first pick of the year, Childress, and that defense came up with major turnovers at key points in the half, stopping a steaming Cardinals offense.
Though Childress made a significant play, he wasn’t interested in discussing his performance despite his first career interception.
“Nah, I’m not even worried about that,” Childress said. Frustrated after the loss, Childress did not want to speak on the play, respectfully.
McBride led the TXST offense down to the UIW 47 yard line, but after a failed “Hail Brady”, the first half came to a close. Texas State led the UIW Cardinals by a score of 17-14. Cameron Ward posted the better statistics, but McBride was efficient and turnover-less at the end of one-half.
Texas State began the second half with the football, but after a fumble and a failed second-down pass, they opted for a screen on third and long to land them in a better punting position. Their three and out was an unfamiliar sight as it pertains to this contest, but despite being few and far between to this point, the Bobcats gave UIW the ball on the Cardinals 26.
The following drive for UIW looked too easy. Little to no pass rush combined with a quick passing game ate the Bobcats alive, as UIW drove down the field on a six-play, 74-yard drive that was capped off with a Marcus Cooper touchdown. The rushing score put the Cardinals up by a score of 21-17 with under 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
Hope wasn’t lost, as the Bobcats roared back with a drive of their own. 8 plays, 75 yards, ended in a tough six points for TXST. McBride to Barbee in the left corner of the end-zone as Barbee made the grab of the year for the Maroon and Gold. Texas State was up after the score by a score of 24-21 with eight minutes left in the third.
UIW failed to answer, with a three and out of their own. A rarity at this point of the game, with the Cardinals punting only one up to this point in the game. Maybe they should’ve tried it more often, as on this punt, a Texas State player inadvertently touched the football and UIW fell on it in Texas State territory. A huge mental error for a Cats team that had huge momentum going for them.
“They (the team) were ready to play,” Spavital said. “Too many penalties and too many mistakes.”
The red and white answered, blasting Texas State’s defense with an eight play, 48 yard drive ending in a touchdown reception for Robert Ferrel. This was Ferrel’s ninth catch of the evening up to this point, an absolute monster play for a Cardinals team that needed all of his contributions. The touchdown strike from Ward put UIW up by a score of 28-24 with under two minutes left in the third.
The third quarter came to a close with the Bobcats converting a major fourth down on their own 44-yard line. At the end of three quarters, the Bobcats were down by a score of 28-24. Cam Ward has thoroughly outplayed McBride, throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns at the end of three quarters.
In the game of tug of war, the Bobcats battled back and hit the Cardinals right back. A long, 14 play, 65 yard drive ended with Brady McBride dancing around the line of scrimmage and finding Marcell Barbee once again for his second score of the night. McBride’s second strike of the game, puts the Bobcats up 31-28 with eleven minutes left in the ball-game.
As the Texas State defense held the Cardinals to a three and out, running back Brock Sturges fumbled the ball on the Bobcat 30 yard line. A major turn of events, the Texas State defense was asked to make a crucial stop with under ten left in this game.
They weren’t able to hold up, giving up another touchdown strike to Cam Ward. Ward found #0 Darion Chafin in the end-zone on a slant, to put the Cards up 35-31 with seven minutes left in the ballgame. A huge error proves to be costly for Texas State.
The final blow to the Bobcats was a six-play, 68-yard drive that ended with Taylor Grimes on the receiving end of Cam Ward’s fourth touchdown pass. The devastating score put the Cardinals up by a score of 42-31 with under four minutes left in the game.
After a last-ditch field goal, the Bobcats comeback attempts failed. After four quarters of play, Texas State loses to their first FCS opponent since moving to the FBS, by a score of 42-34.
“We got outplayed,” Childress said. He later added “I hate losing. We (the team) hate losing.”
This loss in respective terms is a big deal and the team acknowledged the impact this loss could have on the program going forward. Though a major defeat, the team from Spavital to Childress acknowledged that they must improve from here on out.
The UIW Cardinals celebrated immediately after the win, giving their head coach Eric Morris a Gatorade bath following the final seconds ticking off the clock.
UIW (2-1) will look to take on McNeese State next week on September 25. This will be their second home game of the year, broadcasted on ESPN+.
As for the Texas State Bobcats (1-2), they will travel to play Eastern Michigan on September 25. It will be an early kickoff at 1 p.m. CST, available on ESPN+.