UTSA starts tough stretch in WAC with 52-24 loss to San Jose State

UTSA starts tough stretch in WAC with 52-24 loss to San Jose State

Credit: Antonio Morano / Special to Kens5.com

San Jose State spoiled Homecoming for the UTSA Roadrunners as they tallied a 52-24 victory at the Alamodome on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012.

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by David Flores / Kens5.com

kens5.com

Posted on October 20, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 22 at 7:04 PM

UTSA football coach Larry Coker knew there would be days this season when the Roadrunners would struggle to keep up with the better teams in the Western Athletic Conference. 

Saturday was one of those days for UTSA.

Playing without injured quarterback Eric Soza, the Roadrunners committed six turnovers and gave up two touchdowns in the kicking game against San Jose State, which lost to Stanford by only three points in its season opener.

The Spartans scored an early knockout with four TDs in the first quarter and coasted to a 52-24 victory over UTSA, spoiling the Roadrunners' Homecoming before a crowd of 30,862 at the Alamodome.

"Obviously, this was a bad game for us," Coker said. "We made a lot of mistakes. As I told our team, I like our talent. I like our team. I think our team played through the four quarters, but it is about us. We had six turnovers and our offense, defense and special teams matchups did not go our way.

"Give them (San Jose State) credit. They're a good football team, but we knew that. There's a reason they played Stanford close. There's a reason they shut out Navy. We knew that coming in, but we can't give away easy plays like we did today."

San Jose State improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, and UTSA slipped to 5-2 and 1-1.

The 52 points are the most points the Roadrunners have given up since they kicked off their inaugural season last year.

UTSA quarterback Soza sat out game with hip injury

The Spartans led 28-0 after one quarter and 38-10 at halftime, setting records for a UTSA opponent for most points scored in a period and in a half.

Soza, a junior who had started all of the Roadrunners' previous 16 games, was sidelined with a hip injury he sustained against Rice last week.

Coker said Soza probably won't play next Saturday when UTSA hosts Utah State, and indicated  there's a possibility he could be out for the rest of the season.

"That's a little bit of a tough call," Coker said. "It's kind of up in the air right now."

Redshirt freshman Ryan Polite started in Soza's place and completed 20 of 32 passes, with one interception, for a school-record 302 yards and two TDs.

Polite hooked up with running back Evans Okotcha for a 69-yard TD on a screen pass in the second quarter, and hit Kenny Harrison for a 5-yard strike that cut San Jose State's lead to 38-17 midway through the third quarter.

"It felt good to finally get on the field," Polite said. "I think I should have done a lot better. The team should have done a lot better. I hope Soza can come back as soon as he can. I hope that any of my teammates that are hurt get healthy, but I just play when the coach calls my number.

"We played an overall great team today. They were fast. They were physical. They were big. But at the same time, it was our fault, too. We should have taken more responsibility. We had way too many turnovers, and I blame a lot of that on myself. I had two by myself."

The Roadrunners' six turnovers -- five fumbles and an interception -- led to 24 San Jose State points.

UTSA hosts Utah State next Saturday

Spartans quarterback David Fales completed 17 of 26 passes for 279 yards and three TDs. Fales was sacked 13 times in a 49-27 loss to Utah State last week, but he stayed upright against UTSA and never was really pressured.

"They were a physical team," said linebacker Steven Kurfehs, who scored UTSA's last TD on a 50-yard fumble return in the fourth quarter. "They're a very good team and when you play a very good team you can't shoot yourself in the foot like we did. When you get behind like that, it's really hard to catch up."

Saturday's game marked the beginning of a tough stretch in the WAC for UTSA, which started the season 5-0 before losing to Rice 34-14 last week in Houston.

The Roadrunners, who are making the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision this season, host Utah State (6-2, 2-0) next Saturday and play at Louisiana Tech (6-1, 1-0) on Nov. 3.

San Jose State scored on its first three possessions to go ahead 21-0 and went up 28-0 when Chris Kearney recovered a fumble in the end zone on a snap that sailed over the head of punter Josh Ward.

The Spartans' other three first-quarter TDs came on a pair of 36-yard passes from Fales to Noel Grigsby and Tyler Ervin, and a 10-yard run by Blake Jurich.

San Jose State outgained UTSA 180-2 in total offensive yardage in the opening period. Polite found the early going tough, completing 2 of 6 passes for just 7 yards. The Roadrunners finished the quarter with minus-5 yards on 13 attempts.

But UTSA wound up with more total offensive yards than San Jose State, 412-374. The Roadrunners finished with 110 yards rushing and 302 passing.

Okotcha: 'It's all a learning process'

The Spartans scored on their first possession when Fales hit Noel Grigsby with a 36-yard strike on a third-and-3 play. Grigsby made the catch in the middle of the field and beat cornerback Crosby Adams, who tripped near the goal line and fell.

San Jose State went ahead 14-0 on Jurich's 10-yard run with 6:59 left in the first period. Fales' scoring strike to Ervin made it 21-0 with 4:40 remaining in the opening quarter.

Ervin's scoring reception came one play after safety Cullen Newsome recovered a fumble by wide receiver Kenny Bias at the Roadrunners' 36.

Austin Lopez, who converted seven extra-point kicks, booted a 25-yard field on the fifth play of the second period to put the Spartans up 31-0. Defensive tackle Travis Raciti set up the score by recovering a Polite fumble at the UTSA 36.

The Roadrunners finally scored on the ensuing possession, with Polite hitting Okotcha on a third-and-7 from the Roadrunners' 31. Okotcha caught the screen pass near the UTSA sideline and didn't stop until he had scored a 69-yard TD.

Kristian Stern's extra-point kick cut the deficit to 31-7 with 11:01 left in the first half.

"It's all a learning process," Okotcha said, responding to a question about the competition in the WAC. "We lost last week for the first time this season and it's not good to lose, but we can look at the bright side of everything.

"Even though we lost today, we will get back to the drawing board and get back to work. It was good for us to experience what we experienced today and last week in terms of speed and athleticism."

Spartans' 92-yard TD on kickoff return stunned UTSA

Okotcha wore jersey No. 21 -- he normally wears No. 36 -- in memory of Coppell High School football player Jacob Logan, whose body was found Thursday night in a lake about 90 miles west of Fort Worth after he went missing Sunday. Logan, a wide receiver and safety, wore No. 21. 

"He was pretty close to my family," Okotcha said.

San Jose State came roaring back after Okotcha's TD when Ervin returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a TD, Erwin appeared to be stopped near the Spartans' 25, but he squirted through the scrum and outran the Roadrunners to the end zone.

Stern kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 38-10 at halftime.

After Harrison's scoring catch cut the Spartans' lead to 38-17, the Roadrunners' defense brought the crowd to its feet when it forced a three-and-out on San Jose State's next possession.

But whatever momentum UTSA had mustered dissipated when Newsome recoverd a fumble by wide receiver Kam Jones at the Roadrunners' 28. De'Leon Eskridge scored a 1-yard TD three plays later to give the Spartans a 45-17 lead.

After a three-and-out by UTSA, San Jose State scored again on a 6-yard pass from Fales to tight end Ryan Otten.

Kurfehs' fumble return cut the Spartans' lead to 52-24 with 10:34 left.

 

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