PHOTOS: UTSA tops Texas State in I-35 battle

<font color=990000>PHOTOS: </font>UTSA tops Texas State in I-35 battle

Credit: Antonio Morano / Special to Kens5.com

UTSA junior quarterback Eric Soza passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 97 yards and another TD in the Roadrunners' 38-31 victory against the Texas State Bobcats at the Alamodome on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012.

Print
Email
|

by Kens5.com staff

kens5.com

Posted on November 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 5:38 PM

His work for the season done, UTSA junior quarterback Eric Soza had one last bit of business to take care of Saturday before going to the locker room after the Roadrunners' emotional 38-31 victory against Interstate 35 rival Texas State at the Alamodome.

As UTSA students stormed the field after the last game of the Roadrunners' second season, Soza went into the stands and popped the question to his girlfriend.

Yes, that question.

"She said 'Yes' so she must be crazy," Soza told reporters after proposing to Audrey Jones, who graduated from Beeville Jones High School with him in 2009. "I'm just happy."

The marriage proposal capped a memorable day for Soza, who began his college football career at Texas State before transferring to UTSA in August 2010.

A crowd of 39,032 watched Soza complete 15 of 30 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns and rush for 97 yards and another TD in the first meeting on the football field between the Roadrunners and Bobcats.

The game was also the last in the Western Athletic Conference for the Roadrunners, who finished 8-4 overall and 3-3 in the WAC. They went 4-6 last year when they played as an independent in the NCAA's Football Championship Division, formerly Division I-AA.

"What an exciting win," UTSA coach Larry Coker said. "I told our players that sometimes you play your whole career and don't get an opportunity to play in that type of atmosphere. The dome was electric, the crowd was great and so were our students. They were into it.

"From a coach's standpoint, you want to play well every week. But this one is very special because of the rivalry and the atmosphere in the dome today."

 

UTSA moving to Conference USA next season

Soza threw TD passes of 29 yards to tight end Cole Hubble, 5 yards to Kenny Bias and 34 yards to tight end Jeremiah Moeller, but he also was picked off twice.

Soza had thrown 256 consecutive passes without an interception, the longest active streak in the nation, before he was picked off on consecutive attempts in the third quarter.

The Roadrunners, who will finish fourth in the WAC after getting picked last in preseason polls, started the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision this year, and move to Conference USA next season.

Texas State, which will jump to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, dropped to 3-8 and 1-4. The Bobcats host New Mexico State in their season finale next Saturday.

With UTSA and Texas State going into different conferences, Saturday's meeting will be their last on the football field for the foreseeable future.

Coker said he would like to see the series continue in the future.

"To me this is like the Florida State-Miami series," Coker said. "Both teams played hard and gave it their all, but there were handshakes after the game was over. That's what I wanted to see."

UTSA outgained Texas State 499-392 in total offense, and finished with a school-record 299 yards rushing. The Roadrunners held the Bobcats' option-oriented offense to just 68 yards on the ground.

 

UTSA's Harrison scored on 79-yard punt return

Senior linebacker Brandon Reeves led the UTSA defense with 11 tackles.

"Obviously, it's my last game and my first rivalry game, so I wanted to give it everything I had for the team and hopefully come out with the win and we did," Reeves said.

Coker praised his players' effort in all phases of the game.

"I'm very proud of our team," Coker said. "Offense, defense and special teams, we came through when we had to do it. I can't say enough about our offensive line. Those guys were very physical.

"We weren't able to run the ball much last year, but this year we really stepped up. That was probably the difference in the game, being able to run the football."

Wide receiver Kenny Harrison stunned the Bobcats with a 79-yard punt return that put UTSA ahead 10-0 before Texas State even had a first down.

"I thought they played a heck of a game," Bobcats coach Dennis Franchione said. "They ran the ball and threw the ball well. They played well on offense. That punt return hurt early in the game. Offensively, we just couldn't keep up with them."

Ahead 24-14 at halftime, the Roadrunners appeared to be on the verge of pulling away after Soza scored on a 2-yard run. The TD came three plays after Brandon Reeves recovered a fumble at the Texas State 30 by quarterback Shaun Rutherford, who lost the ball after getting popped by safety Cody Berry.

Sean Ianno's extra-point kick put UTSA up 31-14 with 12:42 left in the third period.

 

Warren grad Morris set up Texas State TD with interception

Texas State closed the gap to 31-17 on a 23-yard field goal by Will Johnson with 4:54 remaining in the quarter. Defensive end Jamie Clovell-Head set up the kick by intercepting a screen pass by Soza and lumbering 10 yards to the UTSA 32.

Cornerback Darryl Morris, a Warren High School graduate, intercepted a pass by Soza at the Bobcats' 49 and returned the theft seven yards to set up a 6-yard TD run by Terrence Franks with 2:34 left in the third quarter. Johnson's kick left UTSA clinging to a precarious 31-24 lead.

The Roadrunners responded with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Soza's 34-yard TD pass to Moeller, who was wide open on a seam route. Sean Ianno's kick pushed UTSA's lead back to 14 points, 38-24.

But the Bobcats were far from done.

Capitalizing on an end-zone interception of a Kam Jones pass by safety Colby Targun, Texas State clawed back with a 13-play, 80-yard TD march. Rutherford's 15-yard TD pass to Brandon Smith, combined with Johnson's kick, made it 38-31 with 1:40 left.

The Roadrunners recovered the onsides kick on the ensuing kickoff, and ran off critical time before having to punt. The Bobcats started their last possession at their 4 with only 35 seconds left and were at the Texas State 34 when the game ended.

"Give Texas State credit," Soza said. "They fought the whole way."

UTSA went ahead on 17-7 Soza's 29-yard strike to Hubble with 3:18 left in the first quarter, and had a chance to increase the lead on the possession after Johnson missed a 34-yard field goal.

 

Coker: 'We were able to make plays and finish the game off'

The Roadrunners drove from their 20 to the Texas State 8 before a false-start penalty pushed them back to the 13 on first-and-goal. After an incomplete pass, Soza threw to Bias, who was open in the right corner of the end zone. Bias caught the ball but dropped it as he fell on his back.

UTSA came up empty on the promising drive after Ianno's field goal went wide right.

Texas State scored on the ensuing possession, mounting a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Rutherford's 2-yard TD with 2:46 left in the first half. Johnson's conversion kick trimmed the Roadrunners' lead to 17-14.

Not to be outdone, the UTSA offense responded with a TD drive on its next possession to go ahead 24-14 at halftime.

Bias redeemed himself with a 5-yard TD catch with 29 seconds remaining, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive.

"Our guys responded and our players stepped up," Coker said. "They (Texas State) got it close several times, but we were able to make plays and finish the game off."

Ianno kicked a 35-yard field goal on the game's first possession, and the Roadrunners raised their lead to 10-0 on Harrison's scintillating punt return

The Bobcats cut the deficit to 10-7 on a 57-yard pass from Rutherford to Isaiah Battle with 6:24 left in the opening period.

Print
Email
|