UTSA falls short in Gildan New Mexico Bowl


UTSA Wide Reciever Joshua Stewart contends with a New Mexico defender for a jump ball in the end zone. Photo courtesy of Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Frankie Leal

After a win against Charlotte in the final week of the regular season, UTSA moved to 6-6 on the season and became bowl eligible for the first time in the program’s young history. It was quite a moment as UTSA fans stormed the field of the Alamodome after the clock hit 0:00 and created a sea of blue and orange. Players and fans alike danced in the confetti and sang the school song in celebration, but the season was not over yet.

During the first week of Dec. it was announced UTSA would take on The New Mexico State Lobos in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. On Dec. 17, the Runners made history when they took the field in Albuquerque, New Mexico to play on national television in ESPN’s first round of bowl games.

New Mexico has one of the best rushing attacks in all of college  football, but throughout the first half, the UTSA defense was able to hold them in check and allowed only one touchdown during the closing seconds of the first quarter when Lobos running back Richard Mcquarley punched it into the end zone from just one yard out.

While the UTSA defense was playing well, the offense was a different story. Despite driving the ball into the red-zone twice, the runners were unable to put the ball into the end zone and were forced to settle for a short field goal both times. At halftime, UTSA found themselves trailing by a score of 10-6. At the start of the second half, the runners offense found themselves struggling again throughout the third quarter as they were unable to put any points on the board while New Mexico scored again to extend their lead to 16-6 heading into the fourth.

Junior quarterback Dalton Sturm struggled throughout most of the game, going only 10-26 with an interception, but he seemed to find his groove in the foutth quarter, adding two touchdowns to his statline to keep UTSA in the ballgame.  However, with 2:22 left in the game, Mcquarley scored on another one-yard run to put New Mexico up by 10. The 23-13 deficit proved to be too much for the runners to overcome, although they scored on a pass from Sturm to Jabryce Taylor late in the fourth to make it 23-20, the desperation onside kick failed. New Mexico State took home its second bowl victory in 50 years.

New Mexico is known for its effective running game, but it seemed UTSA was running the ball more effectively. Running back Jarveon Williams ran for over 125 yards on 16 carries while Jalen Rhodes added 71 yards on the ground as well. Meanwhile, Josiah Tauaefa led the UTSA defense with 11 tackles and a sack while La’Kel Bass added 9 tackles of his own.

UTSA running back Jalen Rhodes outruns 2 defenders
UTSA running back Jalen Rhodes outruns 2 defenders

Although UTSA lost, there is still plenty to be proud of. The roadrunners defense held the Lobos to their lowest rushing yard totals of the season, as the rushing trio of Mcquarley, Jordan and Gibson combined for a total of only 209 yards.

“We practiced against the triple option everyday in practice over and over until we got it right.” Said UTSA cornerback Stan O’ Neal Dye Jr. Also, UTSA doubled their win total from last year en route to making history for the university. It’s safe to say Coach Frank Wilson has done a great job in his first year as the head coach.“He’s turning the program around to have a winning culture, and he’s definitely the right man for the job.” Dye Jr. said.

“He’s recruiting players with passion and it’s an honor to be a part of it,” junior defensive end Marcus Davenport said.

After doubling the teams win total, perhaps UTSA can hope for a conference championship appearance next season along with with another bowl game bid. UTSA football has a young, passionate and talented team, and boy oh boy does the future look bright.