SAN ANTONIO – UTSA had its chances. Unfortunately for the Roadrunners, so did UTEP.
In the end, the Miners took advantage of their opportunities when it counted most and that was the difference in their five-overtime 52-49 victory over UTSA before a homecoming crowd of 23,633 Saturday night at the Alamodome.
Ryan Metz's 6-yard pass to wide receiver Warren Redix on the fourth play of UTEP's final possession ended the longest game in Conference USA history. The Roadrunners got the ball first in the fifth OT, but stalled and had to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Victor Falcon that gave them a precarious 49-46 lead.
The Miners, 2-5 overall and 1-3 in Conference USA play, had lost five consecutive games since beating New Mexico State in their season opener. UTSA (3-4, 2-2) was trying to get its overall record over .500 for the first time since beating North Texas and climbing to 6-5 on Nov. 23, 2013.
Saturday's game, the highlight of UTSA's homecoming festivities, lasted 4 hours and 21 minutes.
"It was a tough one," Roadrunners coach Frank Wilson said. "It hurts. We went somewhere we had not gone before, going four and five overtimes. The reality was we had opportunities within regulation. We had opportunities in the second, third and fourth overtime, and we didn't finish. We didn't do the things we needed to."
UTEP stormed back to tie the game after falling behind by 14 twice – 14-0 in the first 12 minutes of the game and 28-14 early in the second half.
"The glaring thing was you had a team that was determined," Wilson said, giving the Miners a nod. "We played a team that was very determined, who was winless in conference play. There was an expectation of that, that they would play with that type of effort. We tried to match it. For the most part we did. But, unfortunately, it was not enough."
The teams fought to a 28-28 stalemate in regulation. The Miners tied the game at 28 with two TD passes that capped back-to-back scoring drives of 97 and 85 yards in the third quarter, but neither team could score in the fourth period.
UTSA drove to the UTEP 33 on its next-to-last possession in regulation, but Victor Falcon's 51-yard field-goal attempt fell short with 3:05 left. After forcing the Miners to punt on their next possession, the Roadrunners went from their 20 to their 44 in two plays. Sturm found receiver Brady Jones wide open on a post pattern down field on the next snap, but Jones dropped the ball. UTSA ran the clock down to 11 seconds and punted.
"We had a chance going in before regulation was over," Roadrunners quarterback Dalton Sturm said. "We were driving on them. Just a couple missed opportunities that would have got us in field-goal range. Bad throws, stuff like that. It wasn't clicking all the time.
"We had great drives at some points, then at some points we just started to sputter. We have to be able to complete drives, espeically on the field goals. Of course, you want touchdowns, but we have to give our kickers a chance."
UTSA hosts North Texas (4-3, 2-1) in C-USA play next Saturday. The Mean Green beat Army 35-18 on the road Saturday.
Wilson was asked how he'll motivate his players to come back from such a gut-wrenching loss.
"The thing I told them, 'You have nothing to hold your head down about. You fought hard,'" Wilson said. "Unfortunately, today we finished second. We'll learn from it. We'll grow from it and we'll be better as we continue to go on.
"No one's going to feel sorry for you. North Texas is going to come in here and try to do the same thing. We've got to put our big-boys pants on and get prepared to play for the next game because it's the most important one."
UTSA junior safety Nate Gaines was asked what it was like to play in a five-overtime game.
"You know, it really just seems like you're on the edge of a cliff," he said.
Gaines expressed confidence that the Roadrunners will bounce back.
"We've overcome adversity before," he said. "We can do it again. It's hard to swallow. A tough loss to a team that was very beatable. Going into next week, tomorrow we're going to go make our adjustments, make our corrections, watch the film. We're going to put it behind us and beat UNT."
UTSA outgained UTEP 525-444 in total offensive yardage, finishing with 278 yards rushing and 247 passing. Jarveon Williams led the ground game with 104 yards on 21 carries, and Sturm completed 18 of 34 passes for 214 yards and three TDs. Kerry Thomas Jr. paced the receivers with five catches for 89 yards and two TDs.
Gaines and linebacker La'Kel led the defense with nine tackles each. Bass also had two tackles for loss.
Here is a rundown of the game:
Final: UTEP 52, UTSA 49 (5 OT)
Fifth OT (second possession): UTEP 52, UTSA 49. Ryan Metz throws game-winning 6-yard pass to wide receiver Warren Redix.
Fifth OT (first possession): UTSA 49, UTEP 46. Victor Falcon kicks 33-yard field goal to put the Roadrunners up.
Fourth OT (second possession): UTSA 46, UTEP 46. Victor Falcon's 42-yard field goal attempt is wide left.
Fourth OT (first possession): UTEP 46, UTSA 46. UTEP quarterback Ryan Metz fumble snap. Defensive lineman Kevin Strong recovers at the 3.
Third OT (second possession): UTEP 46, UTSA 46. The Miners tie the score on a 12-yard run by Walter Dawn. Ryan Metz passes to John Plinke for the two-point conversion.
Third OT (first possession): UTSA 46, UTEP 38. UTSA's Dalton Sturm throws 9-yard TD pass to Kerry Thomas Jt. and hooks up with Brady Jones for successful two-point conversion pass.
Second OT (second possession: UTSA 38, UTEP 38. UTSA's Dalton Sturm throws 25-yard TD pass to Brady Jones on third-down play. Victor Falcon adds PAT.
Second OT (first possession): UTEP 38, UTSA 31. Ryan Metz throws a 25-yard TD pass to running back Aaron Jones on the first play of the second OT.
First OT (second possession): UTSA 31, UTEP 31, Miners' Jay Mattox makes 32-yard field goal.
First OT (first possession): UTSA 31, UTEP 28. Victor Falcon converts 43-yard field goal
Note: UTEP wins coin toss and elects to start overtime on defense..
Fourth quarter ends: UTSA 28, UTEP 28. Going to overtime.
Fourth quarter (3:05): UTSA 28, UTEP 28. Victor Falcon's 51-yard field goal is short.
End of third quarter: UTSA 28, UTEP 28
Third quarter (1:11): UTSA 28, UTEP 28. The Miners tie the game on a trick play that starts with quarterback Ryan Metz throwing a backward pass to backup quarterback Kavika Johnson. Johnson then throws to running back Walter Dawn for the 74-yard TD. The score ends a four-play, 85-yard drive that started after a UTSA punt and took 2:14 off the clock.
Note: Today's attendance is 23,633.
Third quarter (7:03): UTSA 28, UTEP 21. Ryan Metz throws a 27-yard pass to running back Aaron Jones for the TD. Jay Mattox kicks the PAT. The score caps a seven-play, 97-yard march that started on the possession following UTSA's fourth TD.
Third quarter (11:46): UTSA 28, UTEP 14. Jalen Rhodes scores on a 28-yard run, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive on the first possession of the second half. Victor Falcon converts his fourth PAT of the game. The scoring march took 3:14 off the clock.
Halftime: UTSA 21, UTEP 14. The Roadrunners outgained the Miners 264-130 in total offensive yardage, getting 78 yards rushing on 21 carries and 186 yards passing. UTEP rushed for 73 yards on 10 attempts, and had only 57 yards passing on 6 of 8 completions. Dalton Sturm completed 12 of 16 passes for 153 yards and one TD, and was sacked once.
Second quarter (0:05): UTSA 21, UTEP 14. Dalton Sturm scores 1-yard TD on quarterback sneak. Victor Falcon adds the PAT. Sturm's TD comes one play after he completes a 5-yard pass to running back Jarveon Williams on second-and-goal. The score culminated a 16-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 6:49. Matt Guidry's 42-yard TD pass to Dalton Sturm midway through the drive was nullified by a penalty (illegal block). The Roadrunners were able to sustain the march and faced a third-and-5 at the UTSA 7 when they were flagged for a false start, moving them back to the 12. But UTEP defensive lineman Brian Madunezim was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after he leveled Sturm after the play had been whistled dead. The penalty moved the Roadrunners to the UTEP 6. After throwing incomplete to Josh Stewart on first-and-goal, Sturm connected with Williams for a 5-yard gain to the 1.
Second quarter (6:06): UTSA center Austin Pratt is ejected for throwing a punch after Jalen Rhodes gains nine yards to the Roadrunners' 36 on second-and-8 at the UTSA 27. Roadrunners are penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Second quarter (6:54): UTSA 14, UTEP 14. Miners running back Walter Dawn scores on an 8-yard run. Jay Mattox kicks the PAT to tie the game. Dawn's TD comes one play after Aaron Jones gains 12 yards on fourth-and-2 at the UTSA 20.
Second quarter (9:53): UTSA 14, UTEP 7. Roadrunners place-kicker Victor Falcon misses a 52-yard field-goal attempt with 9:53 left in the half. The kick hit the left upright. UTSA had driven from its 22 to the UTEP 35 in nine plays before Falcon's missed field goal.
End of first quarter: UTSA 14, UTEP 7
First quarter (0:00): UTSA 14, UTEP 7. Miners tailback Aaron Jones ends the first quarter with a 41-yard TD run, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive that started on the possession after the Roadrunners' second TD. The march consumed only 2:54. Jay Mattox kicks the PAT for UTEP.
First quarter (2:54): UTSA 14, UTEP 0. Dalton Sturm throws a 53-yard TD pass to wide receiver Kerry Thomas Jr. on a second-and-8 at the Roadrunners' 47. The score comes on the second play of UTSA's second possession. The defensive back covering Thomas slipped, and Thomas sprinted into the end zone after watching the ball at the UTEP 12.
First quarter (6:05): UTSA 7, UTEP 0. Running back Jarveon Williams passes to tight end Shaq Williams for 3-yard touchdown on first-and-goal from the 3. Williams took a direct snap after quarterback Dalton Sturm walked to the left side of the line. Williams then threw a jump pass to Shaq Williams, who was wide open in the middle of the end zone. Victor Falcon added the PAT. The TD came one play after the Roadrunners gained 30 yards on a fake field-goal attempt. Yannis Routsas connected with lineman Jarrod McLin on a pass play that caught the Miners napping. Williams' TD pass capped a 13-play, 70-yard drive that consumed 6:43 on UTSA's first possession.
UTSA GAMEDAY: Lopsided home loss to UTEP in 2014 still stings Roadrunners
UTSA (3-3, 2-1 in C-USA) vs. UTEP (1-5, 0-3 C-USA)
Kickoff: 6 p.m., Saturday, Alamodome
Last meeting: UTSA 25, UTEP 6, Oct. 3, 2015, El Paso
Series record: UTSA leads 2-1
SAN ANTONIO – The last time UTSA played UTEP at the Alamodome, the Miners rolled to a 34-0 victory and outgained the Roadrunners 315-70 in total offensive yardage.
“It was a very ugly day, so I try not to remember a lot,” senior running back Jarveon Williams said this week. “We just got beat really, really bad.”
UTSA’s offense was so inept that it started the game with seven three-and-outs, and finished with only two first downs. The Roadrunners had only 38 yards rushing on 26 carries and completed just 6 of 20 passes for 32 yards and had one attempt picked off. UTEP led 14-0 after one quarter, 17-0 at halftime and was ahead 27-0 heading into the fourth period.
Obviously, it was an evening to forget for the Roadrunners. But they used the memory of the lopsided loss for some extra incentive last year, defeating the Miners 25-6 in El Paso. To hear some players tell it, the beating they took from UTEP two years ago still sticks in their craw.
“We always think of ourselves as a good defense in every year that I’ve been here,” senior safety Michael Egwuagu said this week. “Defense has always tried to be a staple of the team, and it’s always brutal when somebody comes in and they whip you up by 30 points, so we’re not going to let that happen again. Point blank, period.”
The home team has yet to win in a series as UTSA leads 2-1. The Roadrunners won the first meeting between the schools 32-13, in the Roadrunners’ first Conference USA game on Sept. 21, 2013.
UTSA enters Saturday night’s homecoming game at the Alamodome brimming with confidence after winning two in a row to improve to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in C-USA play. The Miners have gone in the opposite direction, losing five in a row after beating New Mexico State in their season opener.
Still, the Roadrunners are wary of UTEP.
“They’re a dangerous team and if you just look at the history of it when we’ve played one another, the visiting team has been successful,” UTSA coach Frank Wilson said. “We’re expecting a tough game from them.”
Egwuagu said that the Roadrunners wouldn’t take the Miners lightly.
“Going into the Rice game, everybody was saying they lost this many amount of games, blah, blah, blah,” he said. “It’s going to be the same thing with UTEP. They’re going to say they’ve lost this many amount of games, whatever, whatever.
“None of that matters because each game is a new game and each game you’re playing a re-energized team. They’re not going to be the same team that they were last week.”
UTSA faced an 0-5 Rice team last week after dismantling Southern Miss 55-32 the previous Saturday, but had to fight tooth and nail to pull out a 14-13 victory in Houston.
“You go into the Southern Miss game and you have a team that was like, what, weren’t they No. 1 in conference at that time?” Egwuagu said. The Golden Eagles were 4-1 overall and in sole possession of first place in the C-USA West Division standings at 2-0 heading into the game against UTSA at the Alamodome. “You go into that game and we prepared, we prepared, we prepared.
“We go in, we beat them. Then everybody is asking if we’re going to let up for Rice. They’ve lost this many amount of games. Are you going to take it easier? You don’t. That’s the same with UTEP. You don’t. You prepare just like any other game.”
The Roadrunners haven’t been over .500 overall since Nov. 23, 2013, when they beat North Texas 21-13 in Denton to climb to 6-5. They downed Louisiana Tech 30-10 in the season finale the next week, finishing with a five-game winning streak after being 2-5.
UTSA lit up the scoreboard the last time it played in the Alamodome, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions to jump to a 28-0 lead against Southern Miss.
The Roadrunners churned out a school-record 532 yards, and piled up 272 total yards (116 rushing/156 passing) in the first quarter alone – a program record for most yards in one period. They finished with 339 yards rushing on 35 carries for an impressive 9.7 average. The 55 points were the most UTSA has ever scored in a conference game and against an FBS opponent.
Williams and sophomore running back Jalen Rhodes rushed for 165 and 122 yards, respectively, becoming the first UTSA players to eclipse the 100-yard mark in the same game. Rhodes averaged 11.8 yards per carry and scored three TDs. His rushing total was a career high.
Williams, who averaged 8.1 yards a carry and scored two TDs, set up Rhodes’ last TD with a school-record 92-yard run late in the game. The scamper set another record for the longest play in UTSA history.
The Roadrunners’ running game had a drop-off in the narrow win over Rice, generating 125 yards on 38 carries for a 3.3 average. Wilson remained upbeat about the team’s ability to run the football.
“There are a lot of things that we need to clean up,” he said. “The good thing is they’re all fixable. We will be able to clean them up.”
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