The Texas State Bobcats (1-1) scored their first victory of the season against the Florida International University Golden Panthers (1-1) after a thrilling Saturday evening contest.
The victory was the first non-conference win for the Bobcats since 2018, as they traveled down to Miami, Florida with questions all over the field. From their offensive line to their issues with turnovers, the Bobcats answered the criticisms with a hard-fought overtime victory.
The Bobcat outscored the Golden Panthers by a score of 13-0 in the fourth quarter and overtime, securing their first victory against FIU in the schools’ history, a thrilling ball game that displayed high levels of play on both sides of the coin.
The Maroon and Gold battled back and forth against an FIU squad that came into week two full of momentum on the offensive side of the football. FIU had previously been given grades from Pro Football Focus in the 80s and 90s as a collective unit, running the football and playing efficiently through the air.
But this week, the Bobcats flipped the script on the Golden Panthers and played stout defense, particularly against the run, while holding QB Max Bortenschlager to a completion percentage of just 50-percent.
The Texas State defense held a Golden Panthers offense to under four yards per carry, with nine of their eleven defensive starters posting run-defense grades from Pro Football Focus of 65.1 or higher.
In addition, their coverage was consistent and of the “bend don’t break” mentality. Texas State had three of their starting four defensive backs post coverage grades from Pro Football Focus of 64.0 or higher.
It was a strong defensive performance, led by the versatile Safety duo of Zion Childress and Troy Lefeged Jr. Both have had standout performances through the first two weeks of action, missing only one tackle each and allowing a combined three catches in week two.
Offensively, Texas State was manned by second-year signal-caller, Brady McBride. As noted in the preview piece, McBride’s bread and butter in order to lead Texas State to victory was not only protecting the football but playing efficiently through the air.
On Saturday afternoon, he did just that. Completing just under 60-percent of his throws, finding big-bodied wideout Marcell Barbee eight times in this game while committing zero turnovers netted him a grade from Pro Football Focus of 69.4.
McBride’s high level of play was on display throughout periods of this game from quickly putting the Cats up ten in the first half, to his game-tying drive in the 4th quarter.
Texas State’s offensive efficiency was led by Brady McBride, but the two-headed rushing machine of Calvin Hill and Brock Sturges ultimately sealed the victory for the Maroon and Gold.
Both backs averaged over 4.7 yards per carry, with both having their longest rushes of the day go for more than 13 yards. Hill was the bell-cow on Saturday, rushing for 73 yards and a Pro Football Focus grade of 69.4. While Hill was given the bulk of the carries, it was Brock Sturges who sealed the deal for Texas State.
Sturges had nine touches on the ground, two of which ended in touchdowns. His second touchdown of the night was the difference in the 23-17 win for the Bobcats, as his game-winning score from eleven yards out delivered the Cats their first victory of 2021.
Brock Sturges. Game. Blouses. pic.twitter.com/QiY3POMBXq
— Drew King (@drewking0222) September 12, 2021
The Texas State offensive line still has some questions to address, after Pro Football Focus gave all but LT Dalton Cooper and TE Tyler Huff respectable blocking grades, as the tape proves that as well. Despite this, they played well enough to deliver this team a much-needed first victory of the season.
The Bobcats are officially winners in the win column, as they go to (1-1) on the season. FIU (1-1) lands their first loss of the season, sticking with the same record as Texas State.
The Bobcats will now take on the University of Incarnate Word on Saturday, September 18 at Bobcat Stadium. This game will be available on ESPN+, the action begins at 6 p.m. with tickets still available.