SAN MARCOS — Texas State needed 99 yards to force at least overtime. It got 98.
The Bobcats’ forced a turnover on their own 1-yard line with under three minutes remaining and drove nearly the entire length of the field. Damian Williams found Elijah King near the end zone, but his outstretched arm came up just short and the clock ran out in Texas State’s 20-13 loss to Appalachian State Saturday night.
“I don’t believe in moral victories,” King said. “I believe in wins and losses. Tonight we lost. I just tried to make a play and it was six inches short. We’ve got to come back tomorrow and correct what we did wrong tonight.”
Texas State junior safety A.J. Krawczyk stripped the ball from the Mountaineer running back near the goal line and Frankie Griffin recovered for the Bobcats. Williams was 5-of-8 passing for 49 yards and ran for 16 yards on the final drive.
The Bobcats won many of the key statistical categories, outgunning Appalachian State in rushing yards (125-116), paling yards (260-167), had the ball for nearly seven minutes longer and converted 10 of their 18 third downs compared to 4 of 11 for the Mountaineers.
Had they finished off the last second drive, Texas State head coach Everett Withers already knew what he was going to do.
“If we would have scored, I go for two,” Withers said. “I want to win.”
King finished with a game-high 112 yards on six catches and Mason Hays added 88 yards on five receptions. Robert Brown Jr. led the ground attack with 51 yards and Anthony Taylor ran for 25 yards.
Williams finished second on the team with 46 yards on the ground. While Withers said he’s glad that the fifth-year grad transfer from Mississippi State can use his legs to get out of trouble, he was adamant he didn’t want his quarterback to be too reliant on his athleticism.
Defensively, the Bobcats held Appalachian State running back Jalin Moore, who ran for 1,402 yards and 10 touchdowns and was named Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, to just 14 yards on nine attempts.
Williams hit Mason Hays with a play action pass for a 49-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. The Bobcats added three more points with a 28-yard field goal early in the second half.
Appalachian State answered with a 12-play, 74-yard touchdown just before the half and continued its scoring runs with a 27-yard field goal and another long touchdown run in the third quarter to take the lead for the first time in the game.
The teams traded field goals in the fourth quarter before the Bobcats’ final drive finished just short.
“It hurts,” Krawczyk said.
The Bobcats host UTSA in the ‘I-35 Showdown’ next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. before traveling to face off with Wyoming on Sept. 30. They return to Sun Belt play at home against UL Monroe on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m.
“It’s always tough to lose,” Withers said. “There are a bunch of guys in our locker room that are hurt because it hurts to lose. We’ve made a bunch of strides in this football program, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”