Kickin’ it


Senior Joshua Rowland kicks the game-winning field goal during the third overtime of the Georgia State game on Sept. 21 at Bobcat Stadium. Photo credit: Kate Connors

Andrew Zimmel

Many fans met him in some of the most intense moments in recent Texas State football history: the nerve-wracking pressure of a whole game on his shoulders, the aftermath of preemptive celebratory fireworks and yells resonating around him.

In the end, it wasn’t the quarterback or running back who secured the ‘Cats their first conference win of the season against Georgia State, but senior kicker Josh Rowland.

Rowland secured his spot in Bobcat fans’ memories after hitting the game-winning field goal that not only ended the game in triple overtime, but also snapped one of the longest streaks in the country- almost a year without a Texas State field goal.

“As a kicker, it’s pretty cool (to snap the streak). Being a kicker, I’m always saying stay the course and stay focused.” Rowland said. “You have to stay level. You can’t get too high or too low. I’m a big believer in kickers to just have tunnel vision and stay focused on one thing- just make your kicks.”

Rowland also put in work at the Nicholls State rivalry game on Saturday, kicking in a 36-yard field goal in the ‘Cats opening drive as the sole scorer for the first half.

Believe it or not, however, Rowland didn’t grow up knowing he wanted to suit up on Saturdays. In fact, Rowland’s winding road to San Marcos started on the soccer pitch.

“Junior year came around, and right before football season they needed a kicker,” Rowland said. “Our football coach came to our soccer coach and said ‘we need the kids with the biggest legs to try out’, so me and about three other guys went out there and did some kickoffs and I guess I did the best in his eyes.”

Just like that, Rowland secured his spot on the team, doing kickoffs in junior year and field goals his senior year. It was at that point that he knew that he could take kicking further than soccer.

“I knew I was going Ju Co either way in either (soccer or football), and I knew after Ju Co, I grew up a Mississippi State fan, so I could walk on there or to Southern Mississippi, and in soccer it wouldn’t be that easy for me.” Rowland said. “So I stuck with football and ended up getting a scholarship to Mississippi Gulf Community College.”

After being named Second Team All-American at the NJCAA level twice, Rowland started getting phone calls to join bigger DII programs until finally he got the big call. The next thing he knew, he was in Texas with Tom Herman and his staff on the forty acres. Herman had recruited Rowland while he was at the University of Houston.

“I knew they were a great up and coming staff, and seeing what they had done at Houston was just incredible. I knew they would have the same success at Texas, and we did,” Rowland said. “We won the Texas Bowl and the Sugar Bowl the next year.”

Rowland was the kicker for the Longhorns on and off for two seasons before coming to Texas State. Rowland had known that he wanted to transfer before he lost the job to Camron Dicker, saying that he knew he had more to prove and that he wanted to play. That didn’t stop him from helping out Dicker.

“When I lost my job, I knew my role and what I had to do.” Rowland said. “It was to help make the other guy, whoever it was, to help him whatever way I could to get him ready for the game.”

Rowland began looking around for college football for places that had senior kickers. That’s when he got a call from former Bobcat kicker James Sherman.

“(James) was the one who actually started talking to me about coming here actually,” Rowland said. “I got in touch with Coach Whitworth and I was on my way to Texas State.”

Coming from small town in Mississippi, San Marcos matched Rowland’s personality a little more comfortability than Austin and so far the move has paid of for both the Bobcats and Rowland. Since joining the ‘Cats, Rowland is five for eight on field goals and has hit nine extra points on the season. He’ll be the first to say, however, that the credit shouldn’t go to him, especially on his first game winning kick.

“I didn’t do anything. I did my job; I did what I was supposed to do.” Rowland said. “Those other guys, the nine guys up front, they won the game. The defense holding (Georgia State) to a field goal with ten seconds left, credit to them. I couldn’t do any of that without them. Credit to them to stopping them and holding them to two field goals, that the guy missed, the offense for getting into range to hit any of those field goals and PATs, that’s all credit to them.”

The ice in the veins to hit kicks doesn’t always translate off the field however, as Rowland knows from experience

“Honestly, I got super nervous in calculus one time. I didn’t even know what was on the test.” Rowland said. “At Junior College one time there was a drop test in calculus. It was one week that had I missed a day because I was sick and I knew nothing for the test. So we had a drop test, and I literally sat down, wrote my name and turned it in.’”

As a grad student, Rowland juggles the practice schedule, the MBA program and his love for P. Terry’s like any other student would.

“I have class on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30 to 9:20 all those nights and they kill me,” Rowland said. “So I usually always go to P. Terry’s right after that and just chow down.”

Some fans still contest that kickers aren’t true athletes, but for Rowland and his kicking brothers the answer is simple.

“We’re athletes in our own way.” Rowland said. “We’re probably not as strong or as fast as the rest of them, but no one can point their toe like we do, swing up through a ball and hit it through some goal posts. Or drop a ball, point your toe and make it turn over the way a punter does. Or bend over, grab a ball with both hands and throw it back 40 miles per hour on a perfect spiral like a snapper. So yeah, we’re athletes in our own way, not in the stereotypical way.”

Texas State’s turbulent season righted itself on the toe of Rowland, but the team hopes every game doesn’t come down to that.

Rowland and the ‘Cats take Bobcat Stadium once again this weekend as they face old ‘Battle for the Paddle’ rival Nicholls State on Saturday.

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