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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

Bobcats secure first seven-win season in nine years

The+Texas+State+football+team+celebrates+a+touchdown+against+South+Alabama%2C+Saturday%2C+Nov.+25%2C+2023%2C+at+Bobcat+Stadium.
Mandalyn Lewallen
The Texas State football team celebrates a touchdown against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

Texas State football (7-5, 4-4 Sun Belt Conference) notched its seventh win Saturday night against South Alabama University (6-6, 4-4 Sun Belt Conference) in a 52-44 shoot-out on senior night.

Texas State’s scoring attack propelled the Bobcats to a 24-0 first-quarter lead. Texas State scored points on offense, defense and special teams for the first since 2012.

“I thought we played well in all three phases,” Texas State Head Coach G.J. Kinne said. “I thought special teams really stepped up tonight. The kickoff return for a touchdown– I thought we had a great plan.”

On the game’s opening drive, Texas State junior safety Kaleb Culp scooped up a South Alabama fumble and returned it 31 yards for the night’s first score. Sophomore wide receiver Kole Wilson opened the second half with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The offense produced five more touchdowns throughout the game. The kickoff return was the first of Wilson’s collegiate career.

“Coach Da Prato dialed up a perfect scheme,” Wilson said. “Everyone executed it well; everybody made their blocks … it opened wide, so I just hit it full speed.”

Texas State redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley was 19-28 for 368 passing yards and three touchdowns. His longest came on a 48-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ashtyn Hawkins in the first quarter.

“I thought T.J. played really well,” Kinne said. “I thought our receivers played well. It was definitely a team effort.”

After breaking the school record for single-season touchdowns a week ago, sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi became the first Texas State running back to have a 1,200-yard rushing season since 1997 Saturday night. He carried the ball 23 times for 97 yards and one touchdown against the Jaguars.

“He’s a great kid,” Kinne said. “He’s brought it every day. When I think of [Ismail’s] season this year, there was a time that he probably could have said, ‘You know what coach, I’m good. I’m hurt, I can’t play.’ But he didn’t do that. He fought through injuries, put the team first and went out there and had a heck of a season.”

The Jaguars offense started slowly, failing to reach the endzone until the second quarter. Senior quarterback Carter Bradley went 18-24 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Desmond Trotter relieved Bradley in the second half going 19-22 for 220 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. The Texas State defense sacked the two quarterbacks a combined five times.

Senior linebacker Brian Holloway led the Bobcats’ defense. Holloway was in on 15 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for losses and one sack. Junior defensive end Ben Bell added two first-half sacks.

Saturday’s win is the seventh for the Bobcats, marking the program’s first seven-win season since 2014. It also improved Texas State to 5-1 at Bobcat Stadium on the season– its best home record since 2005. Beating South Alabama also secured a bowl berth for the Bobcats for the first time in program history.

“[For our] first time going to a bowl game, I know our fans will travel well,” Kinne said. “We have an exciting offense and exciting defense. The brand of football we play is exciting. So, I think somebody is going to want to get us one of those good bowls.”

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  • Texas State redshirt sophomore cornerback Charles Brown (34) catches a pass during pre-game drills, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State sophomore running back Ismail Mahdi (21) carries the ball against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State redshirt senior running back Jahmyl Jeter (28) scores a touchdown against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State junior wide receiver Ashtyn Hawkins (1) avoids a South Alabama defender, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley (7) awaits the snap, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, against South Alabama at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State redshirt sophomore quarterback T.J. Finley (7) attempts a pass against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State sophomore wide receiver Kole Wilson (2) returns a kickoff against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • The Texas State defense celebrates a defensive touchdown, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State redshirt senior running backJahmyl Jeter (28) celebrates his touchdown against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • The Texas State defense sacks the South Alabama quarterback, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State redshirt sophomore kicker Mason Shipley (36) kicks off against South Alabama, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State Myron Warren rushes the South Alabama quarterback, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State Head G.J. Kinne hands a player a rose during the senior pre-game ceremony, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

  • Texas State Head Coach G.J. Kinne hugs senior safety Shawn Holton (23), Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, at Bobcat Stadium.

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