SAN MARCOS, Texas - They say everything is bigger in Texas.
Saturday, the Georgia Southern Eagles let a big one get away in the first round of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.
With Georgia Southern leading by 19 points with 4 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter, the Eagles' defense suddenly lost its way. Fourth-seeded Texas State scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions and rallied for a 50-35 victory over shell-shocked Georgia Southern before an estimated crowd of 10,000 fans at Bobcat Stadium.
Texas State (10-2) advances to the quarterfinals and will play Cal Poly, a 35-21 winner over Montana.
It was the second consecutive year the Eagles lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The storied program with six national championships now hasn't won a playoff game since 2002.
"When you're on the road, it's difficult (to slow momentum)," Georgia Southern coach Mike Sewak said.
Texas State quarterback Barrick Nealy almost single-handedly led the comeback. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another 126 yards.
It was the first time the Eagles had allowed 400-yards passing since Florida A&M accomplished the feat in 1997.
The 50 points were the most allowed by Georgia Southern since giving up 55 in a loss to Massachusetts in the 1998 title game.
Nealy and the Bobcats finished with 594 yards. Georgia Southern had 499, but no yards in the fourth quarter, when the Eagles were outscored 27-0.
Texas State outgained Southern 196-0 in the fourth quarter.
Nealy's third touchdown pass of the day to Dameon Williams and a subsequent two-point conversion put Texas State ahead 38-35 with 6:17 left.
Georgia Southern (8-4) committed two turnovers down the stretch and a game that seemed to be the Eagles' suddenly got out of reach.
"They were the biggest, fastest team we've played this season," Georgia Southern fullback Jermaine Austin said.
"We thought when we had the 19-point lead, 'Don't fall back.'"
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