WACO, Texas — TJ Finley threw for 298 yards with three touchdowns and ran for another score as Texas State beat Baylor 42-31 on Saturday night, with the Bobcats getting their first-ever win over a team from a Power Five conference in coach GJ Kinne’s debut.
After going three-and-out on their opening possession, the Bobcat offense started to resemble the one Kinne assembled as coach at Incarnate Word last season. That team led all of FCS with 51.5 points per game and was second with 581.2 total yards.
Editor's note: The video above is a preview of the Big 12 season and was recorded before this weekend's games
“That was pretty fun,” Kinne said. “I told the guys it’s a new era of Texas State football, and those guys believed from the moment I got here. I’m really proud of the players, staff, support staff, everyone involved. I’m really happy for our guys. This is a big-time win for our program, on the road against a Big 12 program.”
The Bobcats had 448 total yards and scored touchdowns on six of their next eight possessions after the initial drive. That included two first-quarter scores from Ismail Mahdi, on a 10-yard reception and 65-yard run, after they trailed for the only time at 3-0. They led 28-13 at halftime.
Finley played one season at LSU and two at Auburn after being rated as the No. 1 quarterback coming out of Louisiana in 2019. Finley appeared in 18 games (11 starts) during that time, throwing for 2,199 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was named the Bobcats starter this week after a competition with Arkansas transfer Malik Hornsby.
“I wouldn’t say I silenced (the doubters),” Finley said. “As a team, we put our foot down and let everybody know we’re here and we’re coming. As far as silencing doubters, I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about winning, day in and day out.”
The Bears, who won the Big 12 championship two years ago, have now lost five consecutive games. They ended last season on a four-game losing streak for a 6-7 record.
“It’s a disappointed locker room,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “Throughout camp, we were talking about how many games are lost early rather than won. But I don’t want to take anything away from Texas State. The energy they played with, and the penetration they got, was really strong.”
Mahdi was the Bobcats’ leading rusher with 83 yards on six carries, and Joey Hobert had six catches for a team-high 105 yards.
Blake Shapen threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns for Baylor, despite missing parts of the second half with an injury. Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson added 113 yards through the air in relief but was intercepted and fumbled on Baylor’s final two possessions.
LACK OF PROTECTION
Aranda said after the game Shapen had an MCL injury in his left knee and would have an MRI on Sunday.
Shapen suffered the injury early in the third quarter but returned with a brace and heavy wrap on his leg that stretched from his mid-thigh to his ankle. Robertson took over for good for Baylor’s final two possessions.
“He gave everything he had,” Aranda said. “There was a point where we had to take Blake off the field. He had his brace on, and he wanted to play. But I just told him, ‘We can’t protect you right now.’”
Texas State: Other than losing two fumbles, it was a clean game for Texas State, especially considering it has the second-most newcomers in the country with 71. Only Colorado, which upset No. 17 TCU 45-42 earlier Saturday about 100 miles away, has more with 87. The Bobcats had only four accepted penalties, went 5-for-12 on third down, 4-for-4 on fourth down, and allowed one sack.
Baylor: The offensive line was a little too jumpy for the Bears early, with four false start penalties in the first quarter. The most damaging was the first, which was on first-and-goal from the 1 on Baylor’s first drive, and it settled for a field goal. Baylor added two more on another promising drive at the Texas State 28 and 30 and again added a field goal, drawing boos from the home crowd.
Texas State is on the road again to play rival UTSA (0-1) next Saturday.
Baylor plays the second of their record eight home games Saturday against No. 14 Utah (1-0), which is in its final Pac-12 season before joining the Big 12. It will be the first-ever meeting for the teams that will next year become league foes.