Rhodes has career game in UTSA's 44-14 rout of Texas State

SAN MARCOS – Always the consummate team player, UTSA tailback Jalen Rhodes predictably deflected credit to his offensive line Saturday night after rushing for a career-high 174 yards and two touchdowns in the Roadrunners’ 44-14 blowout of Texas State.

Rhodes set his mark in just 15 carries, averaging 11.6 yards per tote in front of a crowd of 31,333 at Bobcat Stadium. 

“Just got to give it up to the O-line,” said Rhodes, a junior from Rowlett. “They did great. There was always somewhere to go, so I just praise them.”

UTSA outgained Texas State 569-198, finishing with 357 yards rushing and 212 passing. The Roadrunners set program single-game records for total offensive yardage and rushing yardage. They averaged 8.1 yards in 70 plays and 7.9 yards rushing on 45 carries.

UTSA was especially dominant in the second half, outgaining the Bobcats 257-45 and holding them to only 0.7 yards per rushing attempt. Texas State finished with only 37 yards rushing. 

The Roadrunners improved to 3-0 for the first time since starting 5-0 in 2012, the only other season they played Texas State (1-3). UTSA beat the Bobcats 38-31 in the season finale that year, when they were both in the Western Athletic Conference.

Fans of the Roadrunners showed up in good numbers Saturday, wearing their UTSA blue and orange and adding to the atmosphere of the game.

"It was electric," sophomore linebacker Josiah Tauaefa said. "It was just a lot of fun. Energetic from kickoff all the to the last snap." 

As the final score indicates, the second meeting between the Interstate 35 “rivals” was nowhere that close. UTSA went up 10-0 in the first 5½ minutes and led from wire to wire.

Texas State cut the Roadrunners’ lead to 17-14 with 8:21 left in the second quarter, but UTSA scored the last 10 points of the period to go up 27-14 at the half. The Roadrunners led 30-14 after three quarters and put the Bobcats away with two TDs in the final period.

“Continue to make strides in the right direction,” UTSA coach Frank Wilson said. “I’m very pleased with a lot that our team did today. We knew it would be an emotional game coming into San Marcos, in their home, in their venue.

“Competing against one another for so many years, although it may not have been in football, these two universities have had fierce competition. You could feel the anticipation in the air from the beginning.”

UTSA, which kicked off its first football season in 2011, and Texas State were former rivals in the Southland Conference before both schools moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision. Although less than 50 miles apart, they compete in different leagues – the Roadrunners in Conference USA and the Bobcats in the Sun Belt Conference.

Saturday’s game started an eight-game, home-and-home series between the schools that will extend to 2025. Next year’s game is scheduled for the Alamodome.

UTSA, 2-0 on the road this season, has a bye next weekend before hosting Southern Miss in its C-USA opener on Oct. 7. Wilson said the bye comes at a good time for the Roadrunners.

“Another step in the right direction to be 3-0, but yet we have to clean up some things,” Wilson said. “A much-needed bye week to allow us to heal up, and then to be more fundamentally sound on the things that we’re going to need to continue down this path.

“You cannot continue to be plagued with penalties and things of that nature to be a very good football team. We’re on the verge of that, but we’re not quite there yet because we still need to clean those things up.”

Although the Roadrunners finished with only one turnover, a fumble, they finished with 13 penalties for 155 yards.

Rhodes topped the 100-yard mark for the second time this season with his eighth carry of the game. His 174 yards Saturday ranks No. 2 on UTSA’s all-time list, and eclipsed his previous career high of 165 yards, set last year against Southern Miss.

Jarveon Williams, who completed his career last season, is No. 1 on the Roadrunners’ list of 100-yard rushers with 186 yards.

Rhodes scored on runs of 67 and 36 yards Saturday.

“I thought Jalen Rhodes played really well today,” Wilson said. “I thought he started to wear down at the end. I watched the (second) touchdown run and I’m like, ‘Go, go.’ But he competed very well. I thought he ran the ball well between the tackles as well as in the perimeter. He caught a couple of passes in space that made guys miss and had a complete game, I thought.”

Jared Sackett kicked a 21-yard field goal on the first possession of the game to put UTSA ahead to stay. The Roadrunners went up 10-0 when Tauaefa returned a fumble 22 yards for a TD on Texas State's second offensive play. Tauaefa credited defensive end Eric Banks for creating the turnover.

"Banks did his job and hit the quarterback and the running back at the mesh point (handoff), so we were able to get a fumble," Tauaefa said. "It was just sitting there. Early Christmas present. I was happy to be able to scoop it up. It was a lot of fun. That doesn't happen if Eric Banks doesn't cause the fumble."

The TD is the first of Tauaefa's college career. 

Texas State cut the Roadrunners’ lead to 17-14 with 8:21 left in the second quarter, but UTSA scored the last 10 points of the period to go up 27-14 at the half.

“The first half shouldn't have been that close," senior defensive end Marcus Davenport said. "It was our mistakes."

Sackett kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the half to give the Roadrunners a 13-point lead that proved insurmountable for the Bobcats. Sackett also kicked field goals of 21 and 27 yards, and converted all five of his extra-point attempts.

"We could feel the momentum start to shift," Tauaefa said. "When that happened, there's blood in the water. We took advantage of it. We didn't let up after that."

UTSA senior quarterback Dalton Sturm had another efficient game, completing 17 of 25 passes for 212 yards. Senior tailback Tyrell Clay also had a career game, finishing with 72 yards and a TD. 

GAME RECAP

Final: UTSA 44, Texas State 14

Tonight's attendance: 31,333

UTSA 44, Texas State 14
Fourth quarter, 4:20: Third-stringer Brett Winnegan scores on a 70-yard run. Jared Sackett adds the PAT.

UTSA 37, Texas State 14
Fourth quarter, 11:17:
Tailback Jalen Rhodes scores his second TD of the game on a 36-yard run, putting the finishing touches on a six-play, 80-yard drive that consumes 2:54. Rhodes retires to the bench with a career-high 174 yards on 15 carries (11.6 average). His first TD went for 67 yards and put the Roadrunners ahead 17-7 with 11:33 left in the first half.

End of third quarter: UTSA 30, Texas State 14

UTSA 30, Texas State 14
Third quarter, 6:00: Jared Sackett nails a 27-yard field goal to end the Roadrunners' first possession of the second half. The 14-play, 89-yard offensive consumed 6:43. Sackett has converted three field-goal attempts for the game.

First-half notes: UTSA outgained Texas State 312-153 in total offense, getting 171 rushing on 23 attempts and 141 passing. Jalen Rhodes fueled the running game, gaining 101 yards on just eight carries for a 12.6 average. Tyrell Clay, Rhodes' backup, had 56 yards on eight carries. Dalton Sturm completed 11 of 15 passes for 141 yards . . . Safety C.J. Levine led the UTSA defense with four tackles . . . Texas State quarterback Damian Williams hit 7 of 15 passes for 128 yards and one TD, a 9-yard strike to wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel that cut the Roadrunners' lead to 17-14 with 8:21 left in the half . . . UTSA scored the last 10 points of the half on a 5-yard run by Clay and Jared Sackett's 43-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter. Sackett also kicked a 21-yard field goal on the first possession of the game . . . The Roadrunners went up 10-0 when linebacker Josiah Tauaefa returned a fumble for a 22-yard TD on the second play of Texas State's first possession. The score came 19 seconds after Sackett's first field goal . . . The Bobcats got their first TD on a 2-yard run by Williams, who ended a nine-play, 94-yard march. James Sherman kicked the PAT . . . UTSA went back by 10, 17-7, when Rhodes scored on a 67-yard run with 11:33 left in the half. Texas State cut the deficit to 17-14 on Williams' strike to Haydel, but the Roadrunners responded by scoring 10 unanswered points the rest of the half.

Halftime: UTSA 27, Texas State 14

UTSA 27, Texas State 14
Second quarter, 0:00:
Jared Sackett kicks 43-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

UTSA 24, Texas State 14
Second quarter, 4:05:
Roadrunners tailback Tyrell Clay scores on a 5-yard run. Jared Sackett kicks his third PAT of the half. Clay's TD caps a nine-play, 65-yard drive that consumes 4:16. 

UTSA 17, Texas State 14
Second quarter, 8:21: The Bobcats make it a one-possession game with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Damian Williams to wide receiver Jeremish Haydel.  

UTSA 17, Texas State 7
Second quarter, 11:33:
 UTSA tailback Jalen Rhodes bolts for a 67-yard touchdown, ending an eight-play drive that started at the Roadrunners' 1. Jared Sackett kicks his second extra point of the game. 

End of first quarter: UTSA 10, Texas State 7

UTSA 10, Texas State 7
First quarter, 4:00: Quarterback Damian Williams scores on a 2-yard sneak, capping a nine-play, 94-yard drive for the Bobcats. The score ended Texas State's second possession. 

UTSA 10, Texas State 0
First quarter, 9:34: Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa returns a fumble 22 yards for a touchdown on the second play of the Bobcats' first possession. The TD comes 19 seconds after the Roadrunners take a 3-0 lead.

UTSA 3, Texas State 0
First quarter, 9:53: Jared Sackett kicks a 21-yard field goal, capping an 11-play, 71-yard drive for the Roadrunners.  

PREVIEW STORY

UTSA GAMEDAY: UTSA-Texas State football 'rivalry' work in progress

UTSA (2-0) vs. Texas State (1-2)
When, where: Saturday, 6:30 p.m., Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos
Series history: UTSA leads 1-0
Last meeting: UTSA 38, Texas State 31, Nov. 24, 2012, Alamodome
Last week: UTSA 51, Southern 17, Alamodome; Appalachian State 20, Texas State 13, Bobcat Stadium
Notable: The Roadrunners haven’t been 2-0 since 2012, when they started the season 5-0 before losing.

SAN ANTONIO – For the most part, UTSA players reacted with quizzical looks this week whenever they were asked by the media if they thought a football rivalry exists between the Roadrunners and the Texas State Bobcats.

After all, UTSA and Texas State have played each other only once – and that was five years ago. If a college rivalry is grounded in the history the two schools share, the Roadrunners and Bobcats have a way to go. At this point, they don’t even have a budding rivalry.

But that’s not to say UTSA and Texas State couldn’t become rivals in time. Although the schools are in different conferences – and how did that happen? – they are less than 50 miles apart.

To hear the Roadrunners tell it, playing Texas State is just another game on their schedule for now.

“My girlfriend went to school there, so that’s kind of the only rivalry with me,” UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm said this week, drawing hearty laughter from the media.

Asked which team his girlfriend would cheer for Saturday night, when the Roadrunners play the Bobcats in San Marcos, he quickly replied: “Oh, come on. You know she’s rooting for us.”

Sophomore linebacker Josiah Tauaefa showed potential in fanning the flames of a potential rivalry, although he stopped short of calling it that.

“I would say I don’t really like them,” Tauaefa said. “That’s what I’ll say. I mean, no disrespect. That’s just, you know, school-wise. Roadrunners really don’t like Bobcats and Bobcats don’t like the Roadrunners. That’s just how it is.

“Football-wise, it’s not much of a rivalry. Yeah, we’re close in proximity, but there’s not much of a history there. But, yeah, we’re extremely excited because it’s the next game.”

Tauaefa said there’s been a buzz around the UTSA campus about the game against the Bobcats.

“There’s juices flowing between the fan bases, for sure, because we’re so close,” he said.  

Sturm was a junior at Goliad High School in 2012, when UTSA ended the season with a 38-31 win against Texas State before a crowd of 39,032 at the Alamodome. That was the only season the schools were in the same league – the Western Athletic Conference – after they left the Southland Conference.

The Roadrunners and Bobcats were SLC rivals in other sports for years before UTSA added football to its athletic program. The Roadrunners kicked off their first season in 2011.

When the WAC folded, UTSA moved to Conference USA and Texas State went to the Sun Belt Conference. Saturday night’s clash starts an eight-game, home-and-home series that will extend to 2025.

The Roadrunners (2-0) have beaten Baylor (17-10) and Southern (51-17) since their season opener was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Texas State lost to Appalachian State 20-13 last week in San Marcos, dropping to 1-2. The Bobcats opened their season with a 20-11 win over Houston Baptist and lost to Colorado 37-3 the following week.

“It’s definitely going to be a great game,” Sturm said. “A lot of people are going to be there, I’m sure. Rivalry-wise, I guess we’ll see.”

Rivalry or not, UTSA head coach Frank Wilson is wary of the Bobcats. Coached by former Texas assistant coach Everett Withers, Texas State is averaging 319.3 yards of total offense, and giving up an average of 323.7.

“The more we look at this opponent, the more it is apparent how much improved they are,” Wilson said. “You watch them against an Appalachian State program that historically has been a good team, back-to-back 10-win seasons, and it goes down to the wire. Just studying their personnel day by day, as you move along, I have a new-found respect.

“We’ll have to match their intensity. We’ll have to be prepared for an emotional game, especially early on. The urgency for our team is pertinent. I’ve shared with our guys the things that are necessary, that we need to do on our end. Although I’ve said those things about our opponent, the reality is it’s about us and our preparation.”

UTSA was dominant in its rout of Southern, scoring touchdowns on its first seven possessions for the first time in school history and outgaining the Jaguars 502-149 in total offensive yardage for the game.

Sturm completed 19 of 22 passes – a school-record 86.4 percent – for 292 yards. He threw four TD passes, tying the program’s single-game record he already shared with Eric Soza.

The defense set a school record for fewest yards allowed in a game, and finished the game with six tackles for loss, five sacks, seven quarterback hurries and three interceptions.

Senior end Marcus Davenport was among the defensive standouts, and is a leader on a unit that is ranked No. 6 nationally in total defense. The Roadrunners are allowing only 211.5 yards per game – 110.5 rushing and 101 passing.

“I think it’s just a testament on how we prepare for our opponents and we don’t take anybody lightly,” Davenport said. “We expect to play a hard-fought game. That’s what we’re going to do.”

Asked if the defensive players take pride in the national rankings, Davenport said: “Honestly, I don’t think we really care. We’re really just about getting our business done, and putting our offense back on the field to score.”

And what about the game against Texas State?

“It’s kind of cool,” Davenport said. “We’ve been waiting to play them for some years now. 

© 2017 KENS-TV


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