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Texas State thrashes Rice in first-ever bowl appearance

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Brian Holloway returned two interceptions for touchdowns and Jahmyl Jeter ran for three scores as Texas State won its FBS bowl debut, trouncing Rice 45-21 in the First Responder Bowl on Tuesday in Dallas.

The Bobcats finished the season 8-5 under first-year coach G.J. Kinne, dominating this one with their defense. They limited Rice (6-7) to 197 total yards, intercepting five passes, forcing and recovering a fumble and notching four sacks.

Holloway gave Texas State a 21-7 lead with a 36-yard interception return on the second quarter’s first play from scrimmage, then upped the advantage to 17 points with 8:16 left in the third quarter by lugging a pick 48 yards.

Jeter helped the Bobcats get off to a good start with a 29-yard touchdown run just 1:35 into the game, then made it 14-7 later in the first quarter with a 1-yard scoring jaunt that capped an 85-yard drive. Teammate Ismael Mahdi rushed for a game-high 122 yards on 24 attempts, while quarterback TJ Finley hit on 15 of 29 passes for 152 yards.

Owls quarterback AJ Padgett struggled before being pulled in the fourth quarter, completing only 10 of 21 attempts for 85 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Backup Shawqi Itraish fired an interception on his second pass and wound up 2 of 4 for 19 yards with two picks.

Padgett was able to find Luke McCaffrey with a 7-yard scoring strike at the 6:54 mark of the first quarter, then led Rice to two touchdowns in the second quarter that wiped out their 14-point deficit. Dean Connors capped a drive of nearly six minutes with a 3-yard run, then evened the score 21-21 on a 28-yard scamper with 3:40 remaining.

Mason Shipley drilled a 31-yard field goal as time expired to make it 24-21 Texas State at the half, and Texas State offensive lineman Nash Jones scored on a 3-yard run to cap the opening drive of the second half.

Jeter added his last touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 2:01 left in the game.

The Bobcats won despite being flagged 11 times for 126 yards.

–Field Level Media

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