Coker: 'Fourth quarter was a disaster'
Someday UTSA will win football games like the one it lost to Houston on Saturday at the Alamodome.
But first, the Roadrunners have some growing up to do. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are winning football programs.
Trailing UH by only three points heading into the fourth quarter, the Roadrunners appeared to have an honest-to-goodness chance of beating the Cougars. But then they fell apart, going scoreless in the final period while UH feasted on turnovers to wind up winning in a 59-28 rout.
A crowd of 32,487 was treated to an exciting, back-and-forth game before UTSA's bid to upset the unbeaten Cougars was buried by an avalanche of turnovers.
UH (4-0) led 31-28 before going on a 28-0 run in the fourth quarter, when all five of UTSA's possessions ended with a turnover.
We had them right where we wanted only three points down going into the fourth quarter but we just gave up too many points and had too many turnovers, quarterback Eric Soza said. You just can't do that.
With a team like that, we can't have that many turnovers and missed opportunities. We have to take care of the ball, but give credit to them. They were in the right place and had a great scheme against us.
UH capped off the romp with a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown and scored two other TDs in the period off turnovers, both interceptions.
UTSA (2-3) jumps back into Conference USA play against Marshall (2-2) at 1 p.m. Saturday in Huntington, W. Va. The Thundering Herd lost a 29-21 triple-overtime thriller against Virginia Tech on Sept. 21 and was idle this weekend.
Marshall is a really good football team with an NFL-caliber quarterback, UTSA coach Larry Coker said, referring to Rakeem Cato. We are on the road and face a big challenge next week. This will test our maturity to bounce back from this game, both physically and mentally. Mentally, this was a tough loss.
After rolling to a 32-13 win over Texas-El Paso in their C-USA debut last week, the Roadrunners faded badly Saturday against UH in the pivotal fourth quarter of their last nonconference game.
We didn't finish today, UTSA Coker said. The fourth quarter was a disaster. When you turn the ball over four times (actually, five), you are not going to win. I don't care who you're playing. Where we are, we do not have a lot of margin for error.
We don't have to play perfect, but we have to play better than we did today. I am very proud of the way the guys fought. Down by 10, we had the blocked field goal. We came back and cut it to three, but we could not hang with them in the fourth quarter.
There were two turning points in the game that did in UTSA.
The first came when left-handed wide receiver Kam Jones, rolling to his left on a reverse, underthrew Soza near the goal line on second-and-4 from the UH 12 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. Soza, who had slipped out of the backfield on the trick play, was wide open, but Jones short-armed the throw.
The Cougars led 24-21 at the time, so a TD by the Roadrunners would have given them the lead and momentum.
We ran that play in practice and it was perfect, Jones said. But today, I think I got a little anxious. When I let it go, I knew it was short.
The second turning point came two plays later when B.J. Singleton blocked a 29-yard field-goal attempt by Sean Ianno, and Brandon Wilson picked up the ball and scored on a 78-yard return with 3:11 left in the third period.
UTSA outgained UH in total offense by two yards
Instead of at least tying the game after missing a golden opportunity to go ahead, UTSA fell behind by 10 points, 31-21, after Wilson's return of the blocked field goal. Talk about a letdown.
As tight as that game was, sure it does, Coker said when asked if the blocked field goal knocked the wind out of the Roadrunners. Things like that deflate you and can take away your energy.
To the Roadrunners' credit, they stormed back on their next possession, putting together a five-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard TD by running back David Glasco II. Ianno's extra-point kick trimmed the Cougars' lead to 31-28 with 47 seconds left in the quarter.
As it turned out, Ianno's PAT was the last point the Roadrunners scored.
The Roadrunners outgained UH by two yards in total offense, 493-491, but the five turnovers they totaled for the game again, all in the fourth quarter were too much to overcome. UH, on the other hand, had no turnovers.
UTSA is minus-9 in takeaways this season. The Roadrunners have committed 10 turnovers while their opponents have had just one.
Even Soza, one of the steadiest players on the team, has had problems with turnovers. He completed 29 of 40 passes for 316 yards and two TDs against UH, but he finished with three interceptions. That's one more than he had the entire season last year.
Eric Soza, statistic-wise, had a super game through three quarters, Coker said. He had a ton of yards and a ton of completions. But we had missed opportunities. When you play good teams, you have to make those plays.
The Roadrunners will have better days, but there is still much work to be done and dues to be paid.
It is frustrating, but it is also a learning experience, senior linebacker Steven Kurfehs said.
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