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Kinne era begins with a bang as Texas State takes down Baylor for historic win

Photo by Kenneth Prabhakar of The Baylor Lariat
Texas State sophomore wide reciever Kole Wilson (2) runs after making a catch against Baylor, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, at McLane Stadium in Waco.

Earlier in the week, Texas State head coach G.J. Kinne said his team had a great opportunity to shock the world. Consider the college football world shocked.

In a complete team effort on both sides of the ball from start to finish, Texas State (1-0) claimed its biggest win in program history by upsetting 26.5-point favorite Baylor (0-1) 42-31 Saturday night at McLane Stadium in Waco.

“That was pretty fun,” Kinne said postgame. “Just really happy for our players and the university. This is a big-time win, beating a Big 12 opponent on the road in our first game.”

Kinne’s debut win provided many firsts for Texas State as it marks the first time in program history the Bobcats have defeated a Power Five team. It also gives Texas State its first win against Baylor. Entering the game, the Bobcats were 0-9 all-time against the Bears, dating back to the first time the two teams played in 1909. It was also Texas State’s first week-one win since the 2017-18 season.

Redshirt sophomore T.J. Finley got the start for Texas State over redshirt junior Malik Hornsby. The Auburn transfer went 22-30 for 298 passing yards and three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground.

“I think us as a team, we put our foot down and let people know we’re here and we’re coming,” Finley said.

Texas State was in control for the majority of the game, only trailing once at 3-0 in the first seven minutes of the first quarter. A 10-yard touchdown pass from Finley to sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi to cap off a 75-yard drive gave the Bobcats their first lead at 7-3, and they never looked back.

Mahdi finished the night as the leading rusher for Texas State with 83 yards on six carries and a 65-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to extend the Texas State lead to 14-6.

The Bobcat defensive front stifled the Baylor run game and was constantly pressuring redshirt junior quarterback Blake Shapen.

As a team, the Bobcats had nine tackles for loss and three sacks on Shapen, who suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee during the second quarter. Shapen finished the game 21-31 for 304 yards, two touchdown passes and one touchdown run.

The defense also forced two fourth-quarter takeaways, an interception in the endzone, and a fumble recovery by junior safety Kaleb Culp in the final two minutes of regulation to seal the historic win for Texas State.

“Our defensive coordinator coach Patke does a great job of instilling confidence and the will to rally to the ball and tackle and make plays,” Finley said.

The Bears showed resilience attempting a comeback by scoring back-to-back touchdowns and a successful two-point conversation to cut the Texas State lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter.

Finley quickly thwarted any hopes of a Baylor comeback with back-to-back touchdowns, a 16-yard run and a 28-yard pass in the right corner of the endzone to junior wide receiver Joey Hobert.

Hobert finished with six catches for 105 yards and an incredible one-handed catch down the right sideline.

“We shocked the world,” Hobert said. “That’s what we came in to do, but we didn’t shock ourselves.”

Hobert’s touchdown pass gave the Bobcats 42 points, which is the point total Kinne wanted the offense to reach.

“I read the game notes,” Kinne said. “I told those guys before the game that [Dave Aranda] is 0-2 when opponents score 40-plus points, so that was kind of our magic number. If we get to 40, we feel like statistically we win.”

With this historical win in the books, Texas State will now look to its next game against UTSA (0-1). The Bobcats will look to defeat their I-35 rivals for the first time in program history and for their first 2-0 start since the 2013-14 season.

“We play a quality opponent next week. Hopefully, we didn’t get too banged up, and we’ll be able to go out there and put on another good performance,” Kinne said.

Kickoff between Texas State and UTSA is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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