SAN ANTONIO — After getting blown out against Southern Utah last week, UTSA was hoping some home cooking would get it back on track.
In just their fourth game in school history, the Road Runners managed to get back to .500, crushing Bacone College 54-7 at the Alamodome on Saturday.
While sophomore quarterback Eric Soza didn’t put up great numbers, he did manage the game well and helped the Runners stop a two-game losing streak. The Beeville native used his arm and his legs to lead UTSA, rushing and passing for a touchdown in the first half. He finished 9-for-20 for 157 yards and one touchdown, a 63-yard strike on 3rd and 18 to freshman wide receiver Brandon Freeman, his second of the season.
“I was going to play the field, but they spun the coverage and they left Brandon all alone, so I was just, ‘don’t overthrow him,’ and he made a great catch and the line blocked phenomenally and we were able to score on that,” Soza said.
The UTSA offense sputtered for much of the first quarter. Two of its first three drives ended in punts while the other ended in a fumble by freshman running back Chris Johnson. Head coach Larry Coker had a feeling that the offense would struggle this week.
“I think that the errors that were made during the week, such as alignment errors, may come back to haunt you on Saturdays with that idea that you will ‘play like how you practice,’” Coker said. “Early in the game we had a fullback go the wrong way, so we didn’t make a first down and it is those things that you cannot do. Our talent won today, especially on offense.”
In need of a spark, the Runners got it in the form of a turnover.
Midway through the first quarter, the score still tied at zero, Bacone’s Anthony Ezell botched a punt on his own 11-yard line that was recovered by UTSA at the seven. Soza wasted no time in making the Warriors pay, rushing for a seven-yard touchdown on the next play. And just like that, UTSA was off to the races. The Runners went on to score 34 more first-half points, to lead the Warriors 41-0.
While the offense looked crisp after a slow start, UTSA’s defense was dominant from the beginning.
During the first half, the Runners created as many turnovers and sacked Bacone quarterback Michael Cook as many times as they allowed first downs: three. UTSA’s rush defense continued their solid play, allowing only 13 yards on eight carries.
The highlight for the defense came five minutes into the second quarter when sophomore linebacker Steven Kurfehs intercepted Cook’s pass and ran it back 45 yards for a touchdown, the first defensive score in school history. The touchdown gave the Runners a 28-0 lead and put the
Resting their starters in the second half, the second-string players continued UTSA’s domination. Back-up quarterback John Simmons connected with freshman and San Marcos native Mike Wilburn on an 18-yard touchdown to add to the rout.
The victory against the Warriors showed just how good UTSA could be, but the Runners, who will join the WAC next season, know that difficult challenges lay ahead. UTSA will take on Sam Houston State next week, only their second Division I opponent of the season.
“The thing I expect from Sam Houston State is the same that I expected from Southern Utah, which is better athletes,” Coker said. “That is what we are going to play.”
Printed on Monday September 26, 2011 as: UTSA comes back strong with big win