Roadrunners beat Marshall, fall to LA Tech to finish season 6-5
Following the 2016 season in which UTSA became bowl eligible for the first time in the program’s history, the ‘Runners came into the game against Marshall sitting at a 5-4 record needing one more win to become bowl eligible again. The game against Marshall also marked UTSA’s senior night in which they honored 26 seniors. Looking to become bowl eligible and give the seniors one last victory at home, the ‘Runners would go on to beat Marshall 9-7 behind the leg of Jared Sackett and his game winning 41-yard field goal.
Marshall received the opening kickoff and looked poised to move the ball with ease against the ‘Runners defense. However, UTSA’s defense stiffened up and forced Marshall to go three and out. On their first possession, the ‘Runners were able to impose their will on the Thundering Herd defense, eventually driving into the red zone. From there, however, the ‘Runner offense stalled and was forced to settle for a field goal to give UTSA an early 3-0 lead.
Following the Sackett field goal, points would start to come at a premium as neither team allowed much on defense. The momentum took a sudden swing when the ‘Runner defense forced the first turnover of the game on a fumble recovered by Jim Philistin. Following the turnover, Dalton Sturm marched the offense down the field to set up another Sackett field goal to give UTSA a 6-0 lead at the half.
The second half would turn out to be more of the same as both defenses came out firing on all cylinders not allowing any points during the third quarter. However, Marshall’s offense began to show signs of life late in the fourth quarter as they began to drive the ball down the field. With 1:33 left in the game, Chase Litton delivered a beautiful throw to receiver Hyleck Foster to put the Thundering Herd up 7-6.
With bowl eligibility on the line, Sturm took the field for one last time in the Alamodome. Needing only a field goal to win the game, Sturm swiftly led the ‘Runners down the field and into field goal range for Sackett. Marshall would call a timeout to try and ice Sackett, but the pressure did not get to him as he knocked through the game winning field goal to give UTSA the win.
The ultimate theme of the game was a defensive battle, as both defenses left it all on the field. However, UTSA was able to pull out a victory and reach bowl eligibility for the second year in a row. “It’s a great feeling, it’s one of those things that you work for. I love my teammates and this coaching staff. We’re a team that believes, we’re a team that is going to fight,” said Kerry Thomas on becoming bowl eligible.
After a crucial win against Marshall, UTSA traveled to Louisiana to take on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. LA Tech entered the game with a 5-6 record with their own bowl eligibility hopes. A win for UTSA would push them to seven wins and help their chances for a better bowl game. Just a week after reaching bowl eligibility, the ‘Runners would fall to LA Tech 20-6, thus the Bulldogs themselves became bowl eligible.
Much like the majority of the season, the story of this game was UTSA’s defense playing at a high level and the offense not matching it. The LA Tech defense for the entire first half did not allow UTSA to accomplish much on the offensive side of the ball, as they kept UTSA off the scoreboard entirely. The ‘Runners defense did their job while on the field, holding the Bulldogs to a mere 10 points at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, UTSA had a chance to force a few stops on defense and score on offense to take control again. Once again, only the defense did their part. The UTSA offense only managed to put up six points in the second half. Kicker Jared Sackett nailed two field goals, but the ‘Runners were unable to find the endzone for a second straight game. Dalton Sturm had his worst game of the season, throwing for 91 yards and two interceptions, the second one coming in the end zone to effectively seal the win for LA Tech.
On Sunday, due to the recent struggles of the UTSA offense, offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo was relieved of his duties. Head Coach Frank Wilson announced that wide receiver coach Jeff Kastl will handle the play calling duties for the pending bowl game. UTSA will wait until Dec, 3 to learn what their bowl game matchup will be.