UTSA football coach Larry Coker didn’t mince words Saturday when he was asked if Utah State is the best blocking team he’s seen since the Roadrunners kicked off their first season last year.
"They didn’t block us. They knocked us down," Coker said. "They are the best I have seen at that. That’s hard to coach against because you don’t want to practice like that with your own players, where you are chopping and cutting guys down low. They did a great job and were very impressive."
Utah State scored its first points two plays after blocking a punt on UTSA's first possession and never was threatened, rolling to a 48-17 WAC victory over the Roadrunners before a crowd of 23,519 at the Alamodome.
Led by sophomore quarterback Chuckie Keeton, who graduated from Cypress Creek High School in the Houston area, the Aggies outgained UTSA 522-299 in total offensive yardage.
Keeton completed 27 of 36 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, and was sacked only once while playing just three quarters in the rout. With Utah State on top 48-10 heading into the fourth period, Keeton watched the entire quarter from the sideline.
Utah State improved to 7-2 overall and 3-0 in the Western Athletic Conference, while UTSA dropped to 5-3 and 1-2 with its third consecutive loss.
The game was the Roadrunners' second in a row without starting quarterback Eric Soza, who has been sidelined with a hip injury he sustained against Rice on Oct. 13. A junior, Soza had started every game in UTSA history before he was hurt.
UTSA finished with only 51 yards rushing
Redshirt freshman Ryan Polite played the entire game for the Roadrunners again, completing 21 of 36 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice.
"Definitely, I feel more comfortable," Polite said. "The game is slowing down a little bit."
Unfortunately for Polite and his teammates, there was no slowing down the Aggies’ relentless defense.
"They had a pretty good defense," Polite said. "They’re big and they’re fast, but we expected that. We expected to score a little more than we did. We just needed to execute better."
UTSA finished with only 51 yards rushing on 28 carries for a paltry 1.8 average.
"We were unable to run the ball," Coker said. "And if you can’t run the ball, especially with a new quarterback to help him out, it’s going to be a long day. It certainly was today. Our guys played hard and we played a very good team.
"Our special teams let us down, especially punting the football. Our defense had a short field and you can’t play like that most of the game. We made a few plays here and there, but our special teams and inability to run the football hurt us today."
Utah State came out of the blocks quickly, scoring on a 2-yard pass from Keeton to tight end Kellen Bartlett two plays after defensive back Devonta Glover-Wright blocked a punt by Kristian Stern.
UTSA plays at Louisiana Tech next Saturday
"They had a great offensive scheme," UTSA junior cornerback Erik Brown said. "On the first touchdown, the receiver came out and picked me and Cody (Berry), and that left the tight end wide open. It was a great job by their offense and offensive coordinator."
The Roadrunners were coming off a 52-24 loss to San Jose State, which had lost to Utah State 49-27 the previous week.
UTSA plays at Louisiana Tech (6-1, 1-0) next Saturday.
Utah State's two losses, both on the road, have been by a combined five points -- 16-14 to then-No. 22 Wisconsin and 6-3 to Brigham Young.
Kerwynn Williams led the Aggies' ground game with 90 yards on 13 carries and two TDs.
"They had a great offense," linebacker Steven Kurfehs said. "They had a really great tailback. Overall, I think we did pretty well against the run. He just had that one long run at the beginning the second half.
"Other than that, we played well against the run. With the pass, they found holes in our coverage. I think we had a good scheme going in, but he (Keeton) is just a great quarterback. He found the holes."
Utah State led only 7-3 after one quarter, but scored on four consecutive possessions to go ahead 27-3 at halftime. The Aggies scored TDs on their first two possessions of the third quarter and added another with 46 seconds left to take a 38-point lead into the final period.
Okotcha: 'We've got to give ourselves a shot'
If the game wasn't out of UTSA's reach at halftime, Utah State left no doubt by scoring the first time it had the ball in the second half. Starting at their 28, the Aggies needed just three plays to raise their lead to 34-3. Williams sparked the three-play, 62-yard drive with a 68-yard run and scored on a 1-yard run.
Utah State went ahead 41-3 on a 1-yard run by backup running back Joe Hill with 11:44 left in the third quarter. Linebacker Kyler Fackrell set up the TD with an interception and two-yard return to the UTSA 44.
The Roadrunners finally stopped the Aggies' 34-point scoring run on their next possession, carving out a six-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Evans Okotcha's 7-yard run with 8:55 left in the third quarter. Stern's extra-point kick cut the deficit to 41-10.
Utah State made it 48-10 on a Keeton's 16-yard pass to Hill with 46 seconds left in the third.
Polite threw a 23-yard TD pass to Cole Hicks on UTSA's first possession of the fourth quarter, leaving the Aggies with a 48-17 lead.
UTSA cut Utah State’s lead to 7-3 in the first quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Stern. The score was set up safety Triston Wade’s end-zone interception off a pass deflection by Brown.
UTSA went 68 yards in 10 plays before it had to settle for Stern’s field goal with 3:00 left in the opening quarter. The big play in the drive was a 38-yard pass from Polite to tight end Cole Hubble.
Utah State answered with a 22-yard field goal by Nick Diaz on its next possession to go ahead 10-3. After UTSA went three-and-out on its next possession, the Aggies mounted a 10-play, 79-yard drive that ended with Williams' 1-yard TD.
The Utah State onslaught continued when Keeton connected with Webb for a 29-yard TD with 6:44 left in the second quarter and Diaz kicked a 24-yard field goal with 1:26 remaining.
Okotcha said the Roadrunners must do a better job of eliminating mistakes because they don’t have much room for error.
"We’re starting to realize it boils down to simple execution," Okotcha said. "Going out there and executing our plays and not beating up ourselves. That’s our biggest problem right now. We’ve got to give ourselves a shot. It leaves a nasty taste in our mouths, and it leaves us anxious to get back to the drawing board."