Entering Saturday’s game with the Rice Owls, the UTSA Roadrunners were one of 16 undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the only undefeated team in Texas.
The Owls made sure that when the Roadrunners left Rice Stadium early on Saturday evening that it was with their first loss of 2012. The Owls offense ran the Roadrunners defense up and down the field en route to a 34-14 victory. The loss snapped the Roadrunners’ six-game winning streak dating back to last season.
In front of a homecoming crowd celebrating the centennial of Rice University, the Owls put on an impressive performance. To pay homage to the great Rice teams of the Southwest Conference, the 2012 Owls dressed in retro 1950s Rice football jerseys.
The Owls ran the ball 58 times for 301 yards. Rice running back Charles Ross was responsible for more than a third of the total rushing attack with 117 yards. The Owls also threw for 182 yards to finish the day with 483 yards.
“We got it handed to us today,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “Give them credit, they took care of the football. They made plays and we didn’t.”
The Owls thwarted the Roadrunner offense, holding them to 95 yards on the ground, the lowest output by UTSA this season.
The UTSA defense contained the Rice offense in the first quarter, with the Owls able to muster only two field goals off the leg of All-American kicker Chris Boswell in the first quarter. The Owls defense hounded the Runners in the first half as well and did not allow the Roadrunners to pick up a first down until their third offensive possession of the day.
“Things are not going to get easier,” Coker said. “We are going to have to play more physical.”
The Owls scored the first touchdown of the day with 10:53 to play before halftime when running back Luke Turner threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Donte Moore on his first collegiate throw giving the Owls the lead 13-0. Roadrunners offense finally scored some points with a Kristian Stern 20-yard field goal with 3:16 before the half.
The 10-point halftime deficit would grow before the Roadrunner offense had a chance in the second half. The Owls offense marched the opening drive 75 yards and wiped nearly five minutes off of the third quarter clock en route to a one yard touchdown run by Turner Peterson that put the Owls up 20-3.
The Owls defense forced a three-and-out from the Roadrunners offense on their next possession. The Owls running game extended Rice’s lead with only three plays into their drive when quarterback Taylor McHargue rolled 44 yards for another Owls touchdown that made the score 27-3 with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
A sense of life came to the Roadrunners when they next had the ball. The offense drove 75 yards and scored their only touchdown of the game on a 36-yard screen pass from quarterback Eric Soza to running back David Glasco II followed by a successful two-point conversion run by Glasco.
With the Roadrunners down 27-11, the defense made a stop on the Owls next offensive turn when Erik Brown intercepted a McHargue pass intended for wide receiver Dennis Parks. The Roadrunners would get as close to the endzone as the Rice 13 yard line before being forced to kick a field goal that drew the Roadrunners to within 13 points of Rice, 27-14.
The Roadrunners were unable to put up anymore points after Rice scored another touchdown early in the final quarter, giving them a 34-14 advantage which they would take with them to the final whistle.
The paid attendance at Rice Stadium was 28,677 with a strong contingent of UTSA fans.
“It was a good turnout from our fans,” Coker said. “Our fans will be with us and we have to respond and stay positive.”
“These guys (the fans) were great. It felt like a home game coming out here,” said Roadrunners linebacker Steven Kurfehs. “It really fires you up and we had a lot of energy.”
Following the loss, the team kept their heads held high.
“It’s tougher competition and that’s how we grow. It will be a learning experience if we use it the right way. If we go in tomorrow with a bad attitude then it won’t be. We have to learn from our mistakes and get better,” Soza said.
“Rice is a good team, they have some great players,” Offensive Coordinator Kevin Brown said. “They showed us what we need to do to get better. We have to flush it down and start over tomorrow.”
The Roadrunners return to WAC action on Saturday when they host the San Jose State Spartans in the annual homecoming game at 1 p.m. in the Alamodome.