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Photo Credit: Vincente Cardenas

Last season, when UTSA faced Rice in an October game, UTSA lost 34-14. On Saturday, Oct. 12, the UTSA Roadrunners (2-5, 1-2 C-USA) fought to avenge the loss, but the Roadrunners’ fourth quarter rally was stopped short by the Rice Owls (4-2, 3-0 C-USA), resulting in UTSA’s first Conference USA (C-USA) home game defeat and the third straight loss in the Alamodome this season.

The Roadrunners were down 27-7 in the fourth quarter when UTSA’s turning point came on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by senior quarterback Eric Soza, who led the team with 96 yards rushing on 17 attempts.

The Roadrunners were again plagued by turnovers as UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker suffered his third-straight home loss this season.

“I’m proud of our effort,” Coker said after the game, “but again, as we know, it’s ‘Did you win?’ ‘Did you lose?’ We didn’t win.”

Throughout the fourth quarter UTSA’s defense was solid as they forced Rice to punt on two of their three fourth-quarter possessions, keeping them scoreless to end the game.

Though the comeback got the crowd and team into the game, UTSA was hurt by three fumbles — although the Owls recovered only one — and two missed field goals by junior kicker Sean Ianno.

“I knew they (Rice) were going to be a physical, fast bunch. They limited our big plays and just made more plays than us,” Soza stated.

Junior safety Nic Johnston paced the Roadrunners with nine total tackles and he felt UTSA was closer than the first-half scored indicated.

“I would say that there were a few plays that we’d really like to take back defensively,” Johnston explained. “I don’t think they deserved the 27 points we gave them, probably 10 if not more, but they made plays and we didn’t. That’s what it comes down to and you can’t blame it on anyone else.”

“Last year we got bullied. We got pushed around. We knew that as a defense we were looking forward to this game,” Johnston said. “We wanted to come and show Rice we weren’t the same team as last year, that we’ve grown up a little. We’ve worked hard in the off season, and, for the most part, I think we showed them we’re a lot tougher.”

The Roadrunners have five more conference games remaining, three of which will be at home.

“We’ve got five more opportunities to leave our stamp on this season,” Soza said. “After the game, I talked to Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue and he said, ‘Keep your head up. We (Rice) ended the season with four wins and went to a bowl game and won that bowl game.’”

“I think we still want to play don’t we?” Soza jokingly asked Johnston and running back David Glasco II, who both agreed with smiles.

The Roadrunners held Rice to only a 49-yard field in the first quarter. UTSA failed to get on the board as Ianno missed his first of two field goals from 48 yards.

With the Owls up 6-0 in the second quarter, the Roadrunners completed a five-play, 85-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Glasco II, giving UTSA a brief 7-6 lead.

“I believe we ran the ball efficiently today for the most part,” Glasco II said. “It was unfortunate that we didn’t get the win. That’s the overall goal. But for the most part I think we did a good job and hopefully we can build upon that.”

Unfortunately, the touchdown was the only good news for UTSA in the second quarter as Rice took advantage of a short punt return and fumble by UTSA, helping Rice take the lead back for good on a four-yard touchdown run by Darik Dillard.

Rice added a 37-yard touchdown pass from McHargue to wide receiver Dennis Park to give the Owls a 20-7 lead.

This Saturday, UTSA gets a breather with their first of two bye weeks. The Roadrunners are back in action on Saturday, Oct. 26, when they face the UAB Blazers (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) at the Alamodome for UTSA’s Homecoming game.

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