Photo by Don Anders
By Mark Hendricks (Hillviews, Spring 2006)
We lost to Northern Iowa 40-37 in overtime on a frigid Friday night in December in San Marcos. Our Bobcats played their hearts out but, in the end, it just wasn’t enough. And that is how the season -- an otherwise glorious season -- ended. One game short of the national championship game.
But this is not a story about how things end. It is a story about how things begin. A story about lessons we learn, hopes we rekindle, friends we make along the way. Ultimately, it is a story about pride, and about spirit. And maybe, just maybe, about one spirit in particular who smiles on us still.
So how does the story of this incredible football season begin? With a win against Delta State? No, not really. A second-game blowout of Southern Utah? Nope. Strangely enough, the real beginning came with a loss. Not that loss to Northern Iowa or that heartbreaker to Nicholls State. But a loss to the mighty (well, they were considered pretty mighty then) Aggies of Texas A&M.
Our second-year coach, David Bailiff, led our Bobcats into College Station to play a game most experts said shouldn’t even be played. We were, after all, a team with a 23-year history of ineptitude at the Division I-AA level. We had no business in Kyle Field. No business playing a team expected to contend for the Big 12 South.
“Stay home, Bobcats, you’re out of your league,” they said.
They were wrong. Sixty minutes of what Jim Wacker used to call “smash-mouth football” later, we ended up on the short end of a 44-31 score. But we had shown the Aggies, the Southland Conference and Bobcat Nation that we could play this game again. We had given the Aggies all they wanted and a couple of heaping tablespoons more. At the end of that game, there was one worn out team. One team that wanted out of Kyle Field. One team that had had enough. And that team was not our Bobcats.
We were back.
The child of a Marine Corps officer, Mark grew up on the move. A barefoot childhood on the beaches of Oahu, coming of age in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Mark made his way through five universities before settling in as a Texas State University Bobcat. He was a news, crime and sports reporter as well as news editor for the Laredo News, and served time at the San Marcos Daily Record. After a decade or so in the newspaper business, he went into higher education communications, and has spent almost a quarter-century back at Texas State, where he is now the Director of the University News Service.