Jason Miczek, The Charlotte Observer

Placekicker Daniel Portillo drilled a 22-yard field goal to edge UTSA past the Charlotte 49ers last Saturday, 30-27, earning the Roadrunners their second victory of the year. UTSA exorcised a demon with the win; of their eight losses, four have been decided by a one-score margin.

“We’ve been on the ropes the last few weeks but the guys hung in. Our guys never give up,” Head Coach Larry Coker commented after the game.

After a dismal first half produced only 83 total yards of offense, UTSA opened the third quarter with a 91-yard drive to tie game at seven apiece. Running back Jarveon Williams fueled the drive with a 68-yard rush downfield. His 181 yards rushing broke his previous single-game school record of 170. He scored on a 24-yard touchdown run the following possession.

“Coach chewed us out (at halftime) and we came out in the second half and drove it down their throat,” said Williams about the change of pace after halftime.

When Coker talked to his running back about the record-setting day, Williams simply replied, “Coach, I just want to win.”

Both teams combined for 34 points in a fast-paced 3rd quarter, and UTSA trailed by one point (21-20) entering the final fifteen minutes. Charlotte placekicker Blake Brewer then made a 41-yard field goal to extend the lead to four.

On third and 10 with eight minutes left to play, UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm scrambled to his right and delivered a 26-yard touchdown strike to Aaron Grubb, giving the Roadrunners a 27-24 lead. Charlotte scored a 37-yard field goal on their next possession to force the game into overtime.

Charlotte took the opening overtime possession straight downfield and got all but ten feet from scoring a touchdown. On second and goal from the three-yard line, safety Nate Gaines intercepted Charlotte quarterback Matt Johnson in the endzone to give UTSA a chance for the walk-off victory.

After driving 75 yards to the Charlotte 5-yard line, Portillo was called out to kick his very first game winner. Following the win, he called the moment “surreal.”

Sturm displayed true grit and resiliency by passing for 133 yards and two touchdowns after throwing three first-half interceptions. His athletic ability when maneuvering out of pressure is unquestionable, and although the sophomore still lacks sufficient experience, he is fearless in his decision-making. Coker said he was “very impressed” with Sturm’s mental toughness.

UTSA’s Hard Hat Defense stopped Charlotte on five of their first six drives and forced two turnovers. The unit also recorded four sacks, two of which came from defensive end Jason Neill. Safety Duke Wheeler set a school record with 11 solo tackles.

The win snapped the season’s second four-game losing streak.

“One of our better flights home, I’ll put it that way,” Coker said about the team’s mood after the game. UTSA Football won’t be flying anymore as they’re slated to play their final two games against Rice and Middle Tennessee in the Alamodome over the next two Saturdays. The Roadrunners have yet to win a game at home this season.

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