Even after being afforded the luxury of a bye week to game plan and recover, Roadrunner fans were subjected to another ugly showing from the UTSA offense as Rice extended their winning streak to six. The Owls avoided the dreaded 11 am kickoff lethargy by composing an efficient 13 play, 5 minute and 37 second long touchdown drive after Driphus Jackson scooted nine yards on a keeper to give Rice an early lead.
Failing to match Rice's fast start, UTSA would punt on eight out of its first nine possessions. The outlier was a bit of a bizarre occurrence. Out of time outs, UTSA spiked the ball on Rice's three yard line to stop the clock with seven seconds left. Conventional wisdom would say to attempt a pass as the clock would stop on an incompletion, allowing UTSA an opportunity to kick a field goal and get some points on the scoreboard for the first time in six quarters of football.
Instead, UTSA lined up in a shotgun formation and ran a quarterback keeper to the outside that was stuffed on the two yard line. The clock would continue to run since the tackle was made inbound, causing UTSA to head to the locker room at halftime with nothing to show for a 78 yard drive.
Tucker Carter started the game at quarterback for the Roadrunners but was replaced by Austin Robinson on the previously referenced drive to end the second half. Plagued by injuries to both of his shoulders, Carter was slow to rise after getting brutally drilled on a sack. Carter was hit with such force you could actually see spit fly out of his mouth after impact on the television broadcast.
With Carter in the locker room receiving treatment, Robinson put up a fight against Rice's defense. Throwing for 96 yards on 16 attempts, Robinson was able to create some big plays while also struggling with his accuracy on other attempts. His longest completion of the game found Kenny Bias just outside of the end zone. Bias was able to locate the ball at the high point and fight for possession before easing across the goal line for UTSA's first touchdown in three weeks.
Given Rice's 41 minutes of ball possession, the UTSA defense did a great job of containing the Owl's offense. Freshman Marcus Davenport and seniors Ashaad Mabry, Robert Singletary and Cody Rogers lead a phenomenal performance from UTSA's heralded defensive line while safety Michael Egwuagu did a great job of covering Rice receiver Jordan Taylor. Strong safety Brian King also came down with an interception off of a tipped pass that the offense failed to capitalize on.
The game ended in symbolic fashion for the Roadrunners. After a puzzling decision to punt while down two scores with just three minutes left on the clock during their last possession, Austin Robinson would lead UTSA down the field in the last minute of the game to possibly allow the Roadrunners to cut the deficit to within one score.
As the offense reached the Rice 14 yard line UTSA's offensive line was beat badly, causing Robinson to be hit hard from behind. The ball popped out of Robinson's grasp, allowing Rice to recover and kill the clock in the victory formation.
This was a really devastating loss for UTSA as it ended any fleeting hope of a miracle run for bowl eligibility. This also marked Rice's third win against UTSA in the three games the two teams have played. With Southern Miss coming to the Alamodome for a Thursday tilt, the Roadrunners won't have much time to sift through the wreckage before they find themselves back on the field. We'll have more coverage of that nationally-televised contest this week. In the mean time, UTSA will have its hands full deciding how they want to approach the rest of a season with nothing left to play for but pride.