Runners stumble for the third time

The UTSA Roadrunners lost their second consecutive game in the Alamodome against the visiting Utah State Aggies 48-17 in front of 23,519 fans this Saturday, Oct. 27.  UTSA has lost the past three games by an average of 26.1 points. Redshirt freshman Ryan Polite started his second game as quarterback in place of regular starter Eric Soza. Soza remains on UTSA’s injured list and the team remains uncertain about his return.

“He is not cleared to play yet, but we will know more next week. We think he will be back, but until he is cleared, we really don’t know,” said Head Coach Larry Coker.

Polite finished the game with 244 yards, completing 21 of his passes out of 36 passing attempts.

From the beginning of the game, UTSA’s troubles with special teams continued to haunt them as Utah State blocked punter Kristian Stern’s kick. The Aggies had great field position as their offense took the field five yards away from the endzone. Sophomore quarterback, Chuckie Keeton, connected with tight end Kellen Bartlett which gave Utah State an early 7-0 lead with 12:11 remaining in the opening quarter.

“The blocked punt we had was on me because we didn’t bring the extra guy in tight to block. I tell our guys that we are all in this together and we all make mistakes, but let’s own up to it,” Coker said.

The Roadrunners offense couldn’t get their momentum going, and were forced to punt on their next possession. The Aggies showed no signs of slowing down after their first score, but UTSA safety Triston Wade intercepted Keeton’s deflected pass in the endzone.

Polite directed an impressive offensive drive following Wade’s interception, highlighted by a 38 yard pass to tight end Cole Hubble. Hubble sprinted down the Alamodome turf to the Aggies’ 35-yard line as Roadrunner fans exploded in cheers from UTSA’s first sign of offensive life. The Runners came away with three points after a successful 29-yard field goal from Stern. The score was then 7-3 with three minutes left in the first quarter.

In the second and third quarters, the Aggies responded brutally as they scored 34 consecutive, unanswered points against the UTSA defense.

The second quarter started with a quick 22-yard successful field goal for the Aggies from kicker Nick Diaz, extending their lead to seven points 10-3 with 14:44 left in the half. Utah State quarterback Keeton exposed the UTSA defense with his passing performance. In Utah State’s second offensive drive of the quarter, Keeton completed three consecutive first-down passes to three different receivers. The drive was completed with running back Kerwynn Williams diving through the ‘Runners defense on the goal line for a one-yard touchdown with 9:34 left in the first half and the Aggies up 17-3.

The ‘Runners continued to have difficulty under Polite’s command. Every offensive possession ended with a UTSA punt in the second quarter.

Keeton and the Aggies offense continued to rack up the points throughout the rest of the first half. With 6:44 left in the first half, Utah State wide receiver Cameron Webb snatched another Keeton pass for a 29-yard touchdown that extended the Aggie lead 24-3. Aggie kicker Diaz knocked another ball through the Alamodome uprights with 1:26 left in the half and gave Utah State a 27-3 into halftime.

The Aggies offense didn’t ease up after halftime. Utah State’s lead increased to 34-3 when Williams sprinted his way through the UTSA offense for his second touchdown of the day with 14:09 left in the third quarter. In their first offensive drive in the second half, Polite’s pass was intercepted by Aggie linebacker Kyler Fackrell.  The ensuing drive for the Aggies started with a Keeton screen pass to running back Joe Hill that led to an explosive 42-yard run. Hill would eventually slice through the UTSA defense for a one-yard Aggies touchdown run. The Aggies lead was now a dominating 38 points, 41-3 with 11:14 left in the third quarter.

The rest of the game, the UTSA offense had moments of success with running back Evans Okotcha’s seven-yard touchdown at the 8:55 mark in the third quarter, their first offensive score since the first quarter, making the score 41-10. In the fourth quarter, Polite found wide receiver Cole Hicks for a 23-yard touchdown with 13:36 left in the game but the Aggies lead was still too much to overcome with the final score 48-17. 

Overall, the Aggies compiled 522 total offensive yards compared to UTSA’s 299. The Aggies relied heavily on the consistent production from their running back Kerwyn Williams, which allowed Utah State to control the momentum of the entire game. Williams finished the game with 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

“We have to correct the bad things we do and be men and step up,” said Coker. “We learn from this from the standpoint that no matter how good or bad
things are, let’s step up and prepare and be the best we can be.”

“We’re not hanging our heads on this. We know Utah State is a great team. They have a great offense and a great defense,” said junior corner back Erik Brown. “We’re going to look at the film tomorrow, see where we messed up at see how we can get better for Louisiana Tech.”

The Runners next contest will be against the 22nd ranked team in the  Bowl College Series rankings, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in Ruston, La.

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