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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Texas State survives late scare from Southern Miss to claim first conference win

Texas+State+sophomore+running+back+Ismail+Mahdi+%2821%29+runs+past+Jackson+State+defenders%2C+Saturday%2C+Sept.+16%2C+2023%2C+at+Bobcat+Stadium.+Texas+State+Won+77-34.
Meg Boles
Texas State sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi (21) runs past Jackson State defenders, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium. Texas State Won 77-34.

It was a very different story from last week as Texas State (4-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) exploded, putting up 42 points in the first half, but struggled in the second half in its 50-36 victory against Southern Mississippi University (1-4, 0-2 Sun Belt Conference) Friday night at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

After leading by as much as 32 points, the Bobcats narrowly avoided a come-from-behind win from Southern Miss.

“Really proud of the guys. It’s hard to win in college football on the road against a quality opponent,” Texas State head coach G.J. Kinne said. “We started fast, which was the emphasis all week. With the second half, it’s always weird when you’re up that much, and you’re on the road. I left some guys in, but we have some guys banged up, so I wanted to make sure they were healthy since I felt the lead was in hand. But that’s my fault. We’ll continue to be aggressive from here on out.”

The game popped off quickly for the Bobcats as sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi scored a 100-yard kickoff return to put them up 7-0 in the opening 15 seconds.

“It really set the tone. Any time you can score a special teams touchdown, it excites the team. It gets everyone going. I’m really proud of those guys and the coaching staff and everyone involved in it,” Kinne said.

Mahdi, who has emerged in recent weeks as Texas State’s number-one running back, scored three rushing touchdowns in the first half. Mahdi finished the game with 89 rushing yards and four touchdowns.

Texas State took advantage of the slow start by the Golden Eagles outscoring them 42-10 in the first half.

Texas State redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley went 19-24 for 338 passing yards and two touchdown passes.

Southern Miss came out of halftime looking like a very different team, scoring 26 straight points to cut the Bobcat lead to 42-36 in the fourth quarter.

Texas State redshirt junior quarterback Malik Hornsby scored on a 14-yard keeper in the final minutes of regulation to put the game on ice.

The Texas State defense struggled to contain Southern Miss junior running back Frank Gore Jr. in the second half. Gore powered the comeback with 123 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

However, the defense stepped up late in the fourth quarter, stopping Southern Miss on its final drive.

“We had some guys really step up. Some big-time players got in there. That’s a good football team, and we were able to get a stop when it mattered. The defense played too many snaps in the second half. We got to continue to let them rest a little bit,” Kinne said.

Saturday’s victory marks Texas State’s first win over Southern Miss since 2013 and the team’s first Sun Belt Conference win of the season.

Kinne continues to make history in his first year on the sidelines as he becomes the first Texas State head coach to begin 4-1 since John O’Hara in 1983.

Next, Texas State will go on the road to face the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (3-2, 0-1 Sun Belt Conference), where it will aim to go 2-0 in conference play.

Kickoff between Texas State and Louisiana-Lafayette is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at Cajun Field in Lafayette, Louisiana. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+.

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