Posted on September 1, 2012 at 5:35 PM
Saturday, Sep 1 at 11:30 PM
UTSA atoned for the toughest loss of its inaugural season last year on Saturday, beating South Alabama 33-31 with a 51-yard field goal by Sean Ianno with 16 seconds left in the opener for both teams at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
The last-second victory was poetic for the Roadrunners.
South Alabama edged UTSA 30-27 last year in a double-overtime thriller at the Alamodome. The Roadrunners had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Ianno's 26-yard field-goal attempt was blocked on the final play of the fourth quarter.
The game was originally scheduled for Thursday night, but was moved to Saturday because of Hurricane Isaac.
It was well worth the wait for UTSA, which recorded its first road victory after going 0-4 away from the Alamodome last year when it finished 4-6 overall. The win was also the first for the Roadrunners against a team in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division I-A.
South Alabama, which started playing football in 2009, is a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Ianno's game-winning kick capped a seven-play drive that started at the UTSA 46 after the Jaguars went ahead 31-30 on a 34-yard pass from C.J. Bennett to Jereme Jones with 2:46 left.
The big play in the drive was a 15-yard pass from Chris Soza to Brandon Armstrong on third-and-10, giving the Roadrunners a first down at the South Alabama 39.
Evans Okotcha ran for four yards in two plays and Soza completed a 1-yard pass to Kenny Harrison, setting up a fourth-and-5 at the South Alabama 34 with 23 seconds left.
Soza finishes with three TD passes
Ianno, a sophomore letterman from Pflugerville, also converted field-goal attempts of 47, 32 and 21 yards, and added three extra-point kicks. Ianno's 32-yarder gave the Roadrunners a 20-7 lead with 4:10 left in the first half, but the Jaguars came back to go ahead in the third quarter.
All of UTSA's three TDs came on passes by Soza, a junior who started every game last season. Soza completed 18 of 30 attempts, with one interception for 215 yards. He threw a 58-yard TD pass to Kam Jones and also had scoring strikes of 23 and 34 yards to Cole Hicks and Earon Holmes, respectively.
The Roadrunners led 14-7 after one quarter and 20-14 at halftime. South Alabama cut the lead to 20-17 in the third quarter, and went ahead 24-20 on a 1-yard run by Kendall Houston with less than three minutes gone in the fourth period.
South Alabama appeared poised to hand the Roadrunners another heartbreaking loss when Bennett hooked up with Jones for the TD that put the Jaguars up by one with 2:46 remaining.
But UTSA came back to pull out what is undoubtedly one of the most satisfying victories in its short history. The Roadrunners played an as independent last season in the Football Championship Division, formerly Division I-AA, but will begin their transition to the FBS, formerly Division I-A, in the Western Athletic Conference this season.
UTSA plays its home opener against Texas A&M-Commerce at 1 p.m. next Saturday at the Alamodome.