Photo Credit: Rafael Gutierrez
The frustrations continued for the UTSA Roadrunners (2-3) this past Saturday as UTSA suffered their second blowout defeat at home this season, in front of 32,487 fans.
After keeping pace with the Houston Cougars (4-0) for most of the game, UTSA went into the fourth quarter trailing, 31-28. Unfortunately, that’s when things began to take a turn for the worse, as the Roadrunners turned the ball over on five straight possessions, resulting in 28 unanswered points for the Cougars.
“The fourth quarter was a disaster. When you turn the ball over five times, you are not going to win. I don’t care who you’re playing,” UTSA head coach Larry Coker said after the game. “Where we are, we do not have a lot of margin for error. We don’t have to play perfect, but we have to play better than we did today.”
Before their costly turnovers, UTSA had an opportunity to take the lead in the third quarter. With Houston leading 24-21, the Roadrunners put together a 7-play, 50-yard drive to force their way into the Cougars’ red zone. Junior wide receiver Kam Jones threw a pass to senior quarterback Eric Soza in the end zone on a trick play, but the ball was inches short of Soza’s fingertips and perhaps inches away from changing the outcome of the game.
“We ran that play in practice and it was perfect,” Jones said after the game. “But today I think I got a little anxious. When I let it go I knew it was short.”
The Roadrunners elected to take a field goal from the 29-yard line, but Houston blocked the kick and ran it back for a touchdown. The missed opportunity would be a notable momentum swing in the game, and although UTSA fought back with a touchdown late in the third quarter the Cougars would go on to blow out the Roadrunners.
“I am very proud of the way the guys fought. Down by 10, we had the blocked field goal,” Coker said. “We came back and cut it to three, but we could not hang with them in the fourth quarter.”
UTSA started the game against Houston with a strong opening drive on the efforts of Soza and Jones. Soza connected with Jones for a 28-yard catch downfield, and subsequently found Jones again a few plays later on a 12-yard slant route for a UTSA touchdown.
Houston responded as their prolific hurry up offense started to find a rhythm with freshman quarterback John O’Korn at the helm. UTSA didn’t help themselves when a 15-yard pass interference penalty by corner Andre Brown led to a 15-yard touchdown pass from O’Korn to running back Ryan Jackson three plays later to tie the game at 7-all.
Both teams had successful scoring drives in the second quarter as each team matched the other with both a rushing and passing touchdown. At the half, the Roadrunners were tied with the Cougars 21-21, in good position to pull off the upset.
“It was a 0-0 ball game and we were going to go win it in the second half,” said Soza after the game. “Our motto is to start fast and finish strong, and we didn’t finish strong today. We made mistakes and they made plays.”
Perhaps the most telling thing of all was UTSA’s issues with turnovers. In the fourth quarter alone UTSA had five of their six total possessions result in an interception or fumble. Through five games this season, the Roadrunners have a 10-1 turnover ratio.
UTSA travels to Huntington, West Virginia next Saturday to take on Marshall (2-2) in their second Conference USA game of the season.