Late TD sends Bobcats past Red Wolves

Arkansas State defensive lineman Forrest Merrill tries to get to Texas State quarterback Brady McBride during Saturday’s game in San Marcos, Texas. McBride threw five touchdown passes to lead Texas State to a 47-45 victory.

SAN MARCOS, Texas — One defensive stand in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game might have been enough to give Arkansas State a victory.

The Red Wolves couldn’t come up with one.

Texas State scored 20 points in the final 12 minutes to defeat ASU 47-45 at Bobcat Stadium. The Bobcats moved 69, 74 and 57 yards on three fourth-quarter touchdown drives, averaging 10.5 yards per play on those possessions.

Calvin Hill’s 6-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the game capped the Bobcats’ game-winning seven-play, 57-yard drive.

“I thought we had some opportunities to go snatch the ball where we just weren’t confident enough to go make the play,” ASU head coach Blake Anderson said during his postgame radio interview on the Red Wolves Sports Network. “It was a little bit of a challenge all day defensively, a little bit cautious. They made plays and we didn’t, to be honest with you. That’s really what it comes down to. They made plays they had to make and we didn’t.”

ASU (3-6, 1-5 Sun Belt) lost despite producing 654 total yards, including 462 passing yards from quarterbacks Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher.

The Red Wolves gave up 500-plus yards for the fifth time this season as Texas State (2-9, 2-5) finished with 505. Brady McBride completed 32-of-45 passes for 443 yards and five touchdowns, helping the Bobcats end a seven-game losing streak.

“We knew coming in their offense could score; they’ve scored points most of the year,” said Anderson, whose team has lost four in a row. “Last week scoring 38 points against a team as physically talented as Georgia Southern gave you a good indication of what we were going to see, but we got them in a position where one stop, really a couple of different times during the day (might have won the game). One stop right before half, one stop right there late, we possibly win the game.”

Down 24-10 at one point in the first half, the Red Wolves outscored the Bobcats 28-3 over a span of roughly 26 minutes from the second quarter to the fourth.

ASU took its first lead on Hatcher’s 84-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Foreman with 8:18 left in the third quarter and extended its advantage to 38-27 on Bonner’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Giles Amos with 13:50 left in the game.

McBride drove Texas State 69 yards in five plays, finishing with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Marcell Barbee with 11:39 remaining. ASU punted on its next possession and the Bobcats drove 74 yards in seven plays, taking a 41-38 lead on McBride’s 15-yard touchdown pass to Trevis Graham with 7:01 remaining.

The Red Wolves answered with a 65-yard, 12-play touchdown drive. Jamal Jones scored on a 1-yard run with 1:43 remaining, giving ASU a 45-41 lead.

Jeremiah Haydel’s 41-yard kickoff return set up Texas State’s game-winning drive. McBride found Hill for 10 yards on third-and-5 from the Bobcats’ 48 and Texas State easily covered the remaining 42 yards in four plays.

The Bobcats missed the extra point, giving ASU a chance to win with a field goal, but Hatcher’s last three passes fell incomplete as the Red Wolves turned the ball over on downs at their 32 with nine seconds remaining.

Hatcher was 10-of-22 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, while Bonner was 17-of-26 for 208 yards and two more scores. Jonathan Adams Jr. caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, while Foreman finished with three catches for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Jones had his first career 100-yard game, leading ASU with 106 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Returning from an ankle injury after missing four games, Marcel Murray added 41 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Freshman running back Lincoln Pare suffered an arm injury early in the game and was limited to three carries.

ASU battled back from double-digit deficits twice in the first half. The Red Wolves tied the game at 10 and 24, the latter on Hatcher’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Adams with 16 seconds left in the half.

The Bobcats moved 44 yards in the final seconds of the half to set up Seth Keller’s 48-yard field goal for a 27-24 halftime lead.

“The plan was good, guys played hard. We had a great, great week of work, but that just gets you to the field,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to execute when your number is called and we didn’t make enough plays to get it done.”

ASU’s last three games are at home, starting next Saturday with South Alabama. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.