Vincente Cardenas/ The Paisano
With 14 seconds left in the game, UTSA junior kicker Sean Ianno stepped onto the field with a chance to win the game.
Tied at 7-7, Ianno converted the 34-yard attempt to help the UTSA football team beat the Tulane Green Wave 10-7 in front of over 24,000 fans in the Alamodome.
The UTSA Roadrunners (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) have now won three straight Conference USA (C-USA) games, while the Tulane Green Wave, who came into the game in a three-way tie for first in C-USA, (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) have now lost two straight.
UTSA senior quarterback Eric Soza led the Roadrunners offense on a 10-play, 63-yard drive in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, highlighted by a 62-yard pass to junior wide receiver Seth Grubb that put UTSA on the Tulane 13-yard line and within field goal range.
“It was a busted coverage really. They (Tulane) ran cover two, and we ran four verticals. Their corner just sat down in the flat,” Grubb said after the game. “Once I got around him and the safety took him, I was wide open. It was amazing. It was really awesome.”
After Grubb’s catch, Ianno connected on his third career game-winning field goal at UTSA. Despite some struggles earlier in the season, Ianno had made it a point to keep his mindset consistent in any situation.
“I just do the same thing I always do,” Ianno said after the game. “Especially in those situations, I don’t want anyone coming and talking to me except for Grubb and my snapper Jesse (Medrano).”
The Roadrunners had an uphill battle this week, playing without junior running back David Glasco II and senior Evans Okotcha, who were both suffering from injuries. As a team, UTSA finished the game with 309 total yards, 126 of which were rushing. Junior running back Brandon Armstrong paced the team with 81 rushing yards, while junior tight end Cole Hubble added three receptions for 51 yards.
But it was the Roadrunners defense that stepped up with a season-low seven points allowed — the fewest points given up to a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. UTSA was continually called for passing interference calls, yet still managed to make stops when they needed them the most. UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker gave credit to the entire UTSA staff for their performance.
“The penalties were frustrating,” said Coker. “They were really attacking our corners and (assistant coach) Jeff Popovich has just done a phenomenal job coaching those corners.
“They made some plays but not many catches and some of the penalties you are going to have sometimes when you play man coverage. You’re going to have some of those, but our corner play was outstanding.”
The Roadrunners started the game with a nine-play, 73-yard drive and looked to be on the verge of scoring until Tulane sophomore safety Darion Monroe forced the ball out of UTSA freshman running back Jarveon Williams’ hands.
After a scoreless stalemate in the first quarter, UTSA senior linebacker Steven Kurfehs, who had a game-high of 11 tackles, forced a fumble on Tulane’s first possession of the second quarter. But UTSA could not convert it into a touchdown.
Following a Tulane punt on the next series, UTSA junior running back Brandon Armstrong lost the ball on a two-yard rush, giving the Green Wave good field position. With Tulane down to a third and 10 at the UTSA 27-yard line, the Roadrunners were whistled for pass interference to extend Tulane’s drive. A few plays later, the Green Wave scored the first points of the game on a nine-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Orleans Darkwa.
It wasn’t until late into the third quarter that UTSA got back in the game. Following a 50-yard missed field goal by Tulane kicker Cairo Santos — his second of the game — Armstrong exploded through a small hole in the Green Wave defense for a 68-yard rushing touchdown that tied the game 7-7.
The Roadrunners showed enough resolve in the game to have Coker and his players believing they have a chance to end this season with a big impact.
“I am really proud of our team,” Coker said. I told them there in the locker room I don’t know if I’ve been any prouder of a group of young men than I am today with this group. They fought hard. Several times they could’ve folded and they never did.”
UTSA will be idle next weekend before playing their final two games of the season.
The Roadrunners head to Denton, Texas, on Saturday, Nov. 23, for their final road game of the season against the North Texas Mean Green (7-3, 5-1 C-USA).