SAN ANTONIO – UTSA piled up 238 yards in the second half and held off a late McNeese State rally in a 31-24 non-conference victory on Saturday in front of 25,784 fans at the Alamodome.
The Roadrunners snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 6-4 on the season. They overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit by scoring 24 unanswered points to eventually build a 31-10 advantage with just under 10 minutes to play.
The Cowboys (6-4) scored two late touchdowns and got the ball back at their own 39 with six seconds left, but quarterback Cody Stroud’s pass on the final play fell incomplete near the UTSA 20.
Trailing 10-7, UTSA quarterback Eric Soza guided a 12-play, 69-yard drive on the first possession of the second half that he capped with a diving 4-yard touchdown scramble to the right side.
The Roadrunners defense forced a McNeese State punt and the offense went to work again. Soza kept a third-and-two play alive and found Marcellus Mack on the sideline for six yards and a first down at the Cowboys 33. Four plays later, Evans Okotcha notched his school-record eighth rushing touchdown of the season with a 9-yard jaunt to the left side, extending the ball into the pylon to help put UTSA up by two scores.
The defense came up big on the next McNeese State drive, as Cody Berry forced a Marcus Wiltz fumble that was recovered by Triston Wade at the UTSA 30. The offense responded by marching 70 yards on eight plays, ending on a screen pass from Soza to Brandon Armstrong, who took it down the right sideline 31 yards for his first career TD and a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Crosby Adams fielded his second interception of the season at the UTSA 19 on a deep pass from Stroud that was intended for Wes Briscoe. The Roadrunners converted that into three points after a 31-yard field goal by Kristian Stern gave them a 31-10 lead with 9:55 left to play.
The Cowboys did not quit, as Stroud found Dylan Long for a 6-yard TD pass with 6:18 on the clock. Josh Lewis’ extra point made it 31-17.
McNeese State forced a three-and-out and then drove 86 yards on seven plays, the last one a 3-yard scoring plunge by Wiltz at the 3:05 mark to make it a one-score game.
UTSA killed 2:59 off the clock before Stern was forced to punt on fourth down from the 17. Facing heavy pressure, the Alamo Heights product got off a 49-yarder to put McNeese at its own 39 with six ticks left.
Stroud scrambled and heaved a long pass that was knocked away by Brian King as time expired.
Soza finished the day 24-for-37 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Okotcha was the leading receiver (3-37) and rusher (10-50), while Josiah Monroe and Kam Jones hauled in three passes each for 33 and 31 yards, respectively.
Stroud completed 34 of 46 passes for 346 yards and two TDs. Wes Briscoe led all receivers with six catches for 99 yards and a score, while Wiltz registered 63 yards and a TD on 12 carries.
The Roadrunners will face Idaho in a Western Athletic Conference contest next Saturday, Nov. 17. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. Central time at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow and the game will be televised in San Antonio on KCWX.
· UTSA captains were juniors LB Steven Kurfehs, TE Jeremiah Moeller, QB Eric Soza and sophomore DT Ferrington Macon.
· The Roadrunners racked up 238 total yards of offense (160 passing/78 rushing) in the second half after gaining only 120 yards in the first 30 minutes (102 passing/18 rushing).
· After falling behind 10-7, UTSA scored 24 unanswered points to take a 21-point lead in the game.
· The Roadrunners did not commit a turnover for the second straight game and have not turned the ball over in the last nine quarters (last turnover was an interception in the third quarter against Utah State on 10/27/12).
· Freshman S Charles Wort posted his second blocked punt of the season and it was UTSA’s fourth blocked kick of the year (3 punts/1 FG).
· UTSA forced two turnovers (1 INT/1 FR) today and a total of 24 (12 INTs/12 FRs) in 10 outings this season. The Roadrunners converted both turnovers into points (1 TD/1FG) today and now have turned 19 of its 24 takeaways into scores (13 TDs/6 FGs).
· Junior S Cody Berry became the ninth UTSA player to force a fumble this season.
· Sophomore S Triston Wade became the 12th Roadrunner to recover a fumble this season.
· Junior RB Evans Okotcha increased his single-season school record for touchdowns to 11 (8 rush/3 rec) after scoring on a 23-yard reception in the second quarter and 9-yard rush in the third period. The Coppell native’s career total stands at 16 (12 rush) in 20 contests.
· Senior LB Brandon Reeves racked up a career-high 13 total tackles (4 solos), which is tied for second-most in the program’s history (Cody Rogers, 16 at McNeese State on 11/12/11).
· Sophomore RB Brandon Armstrong scored his first career TD on a 31-yard screen pass from Soza in the fourth quarter. The Roadrunners QBs now have thrown TD passes to 11 different players (7 WRs/3 RBs/1 TE) this season. UTSA also has seen 16 different players score a TD this season.
· Sophomore P Kristian Stern booted a season-long 50-yard punt and downed another inside the 20-yard line. Stern also made good on his only FG attempt of the day, a 31-yarder in the fourth quarter. The San Antonio native has converted five of his six FG attempts this fall.
· Sophomore CB Crosby Adams intercepted his second pass of the season.
· Junior QB Eric Soza completed a season-high 24 passes to 12 different receivers. The Beeville native ended with 262 yards passing and a pair of TDs. He also added eight yards on the ground, including a four-yard TD run.