Roadrunners celebrate around receiver Josh Stewart after a touchdown. Chase Otero/Paisano

UTSA’s football season officially comes to an end

 

Coming off a 2016 season in which they made a bowl game for the first time in school history, the UTSA football team came into this season with high expectations. Not only were there preseason talks of going to another bowl game, but the possibility of a conference championship seemed within reach. By the end of a season filled with ups and downs, UTSA finished the season with a 6-5 record. Despite winning six games, the ‘Runners will not go to a bowl game. This season, 81 teams were eligible for a bowl bid. With only 78 bowl slots available, three teams would fall short, including UTSA.

Looking to prove themselves as a serious threat in Conference-USA, the ‘Runners started off strong in non-conference play. After their season opener against Houston was cancelled due to Hurricane Harvey, UTSA went on the road to Waco to face Baylor to begin the season. The ‘Runners were heavy underdogs going into the game, but shocked the country by pulling off a 17-10 upset victory. By beating Baylor, the ‘Runners claimed their first win over a Power Five school.

Following the win over Baylor, the ‘Runners looked dominant over the next two non-conference games against Southern University and Texas State. Against Southern, the UTSA offense exploded for a whopping 55 points, while the defense only allowed 17. The ‘Runners were led by quarterback Dalton Sturm, who completed 19 of 22 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns.

Facing rivals Texas State, UTSA again was dominant and made things look easy in a 44-14 win on the back of 174 yards and a touchdown from Jalen Rhodes.

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On the heels of an impressive 3-0 start in non-conference play, UTSA looked to start conference play on a strong note against Southern Miss. The offense was again firing on all cylinders, as Sturm threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns. However, the ‘Runners defense could not stop Southern Miss running back Ito Smith, who totaled 178 of the teams 246 rushing yards. A furious late comeback attempt would fall short, as the ‘Runners would ultimately fall 31-29 to the Golde Eagles for their first loss of the season.

Following the heartbreaking loss, UTSA looked to avoid back-to-back losses heading into the game against North Texas. The offense struggled early in the first half but woke up during the second quarter to take a 17-16 into the half. UTSA’s defense kept the team in the game for much of the second half, as the offense struggled to get production going. The UTSA defense would take the field with a minute left in the game tasked with protecting a 26-22 lead. However, they allowed a go-ahead touchdown with 20 seconds left in the game to fall 29-26.

After back-to-back close losses to start conference play, UTSA got back on track against Rice and UTEP. Looking to dispel the offensive struggles they had been dealing with, the ‘Runners, led by Tyrell Clay’s dynamic 153-yard performance, thrashed Rice. On the defensive side of the ball, it was the Marcus Davenport show as he totaled 11 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the 20-7 UTSA win. The ‘Runners carried the success into their game against UTEP. They earned 31 points due to a dominant 205 yard performance on the ground. A dynamic offensive performance, which was backed by a stout defensive showing, led UTSA to a 31-14 victory to bring the team within one game of bowl eligibility.

Heading into the final four games of the season, the UTSA offense appeared to be back on track at the perfect time. However, the offensive woes were on full display during the final stretch of the season. In three of the final four games, the ‘Runners only managed to score more than 14 points once. On the other side of the ball, the USTA defense played extraordinarily well, but the offense was unable to take advantage. Despite the offensive difficulties during the final stretch, the ‘Runners still managed a 9-7 victory over Marshall behind the leg of Jared Sackett to gain their sixth win of the season before falling to Louisiana Tech in the final game. 

On Dec. 3, UTSA was informed they had not earned a bowl game bid despite their six-win season. With the departure of key seniors such as quarterback Dalton Sturm and defensive end Marcus Davenport, the future of UTSA football is uncertain. UTSA football will return in the fall of 2018.

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