Texas State finally found a way to win a close game and stop a five-year losing streak to Arkansas State University at the same time Saturday.
Running back Calvin Hill scored on a 6-yard run with 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter as Texas State erased an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to come away with a 47-45 Sun Belt Conference victory in front of a crowd of 5,218 at Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, Texas.
Hill finished with just 49 yards rushing in the game for Texas State (2-9, 2-5 Sun Belt), which put an end to a seven-game losing streak while beating the Red Wolves for the first time in their past six meetings. The Bobcats had lost six games this year by 10 points or fewer and trailed 38-27 early in the fourth quarter against ASU, but Texas State scored 20 points over the final 11:39 and watched the Red Wolves turn the ball over on downs during its final push.
Quarterback Brady McBride had a career day for the Bobcats, who dealt the Red Wolves (3-6, 1-5) a fourth consecutive loss. The sophomore completed 32 of 45 passes for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns as Texas State finished with 505 yards of offense.
As much as McBride gave the Red Wolves fits with his arm, ASU Coach Blake Anderson said he felt his team missed out on chances at momentum-stealing plays.
"I thought we had some opportunities to go snatch the ball where we just weren't confident enough to go make the play," he said. "It was a little bit of a challenge all day defensively. They made plays, we didn't to be honest with you. That's really what it comes down to."
Quarterbacks Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher combined to go 27-of-48 passing for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns for ASU, which had no problems moving the ball offensively.
The Red Wolves, who ended with 654 yards, got stout efforts from their playmakers, with running back Jamal Jones rushing for 106 yards and wide receiver Jonathan Adams catching 10 passes for 141 yards. ASU also got 148 yards receiving from Jeff Foreman.
Big plays aided Texas State over the first two quarters. Of the Bobcats' five scoring drives in the first half, the longest lasted just 2:49. Texas State's most beneficial march of the half, though, may have been the one that was the most improbable of all.
Adams had just hauled in a 30-yard touchdown from Hatcher with 16 seconds left in the second quarter that tied the game at 24-24. Texas State took over and drove from its 25 to the Red Wolves' 31 in three plays before kicker Seth Keller booted a 48-yard field goal to give the Bobcats a 27-24 halftime lead.
"[Texas State] had a good plan offensively," Anderson said. "We knew coming in that their offense could score, they've scored points most of the year. But we got them in a position where one stop, really a couple of different times during the day, one stop right before the half, one stop right there late would possibly win the game."
Hatcher's 84-yard touchdown pass to Foreman with 8:18 left in the third quarter gave ASU a 31-27 lead, and Bonner later delivered an 8-yard scoring strike to tight end Amos Giles with 13:50 remaining in the fourth quarter for an 11-point advantage
Texas State got a 5-yard touchdown catch from wide receiver Marcell Barbee and a 15-yarder from Trevis Graham Jr. over a five-minute stretch to establish a 41-38 cushion. Jones put ASU back on top with 1:43 left on a 1-yard run, but McBride guided the Bobcats 57 yards in seven plays, culminating with Hill's go-ahead score.
"The plan was good, and guys played hard," Anderson said. "We had a great week of work, but that just gets you to the field. You've got to execute when your number's called.
"We just didn't make enough plays to get it done."