“There are no moral victories.”
That’s how Roadrunners’ head coach Frank Wilson addressed the media following the team’s heart-shattering loss Friday night.
UTSA played the greatest three quarters in school history against Arizona State.
Going into the final stanza, the Roadrunners led 28-15 after holding the Sun Devils to just one touchdown and three field goals.
ASU appeared to be rattled from the start by the Alamodome’s decibel level. The Sun Devils were swallowed by the noise and had a lot of obvious disorganization on the field due to it.
After only moving the ball 30 yards, Zane Gonzalez nailed a 54-yard field goal to score the game’s first points. He finished the day making four out of five, the first two of which from 54 yards out and three out of the four from at least 40. His kick drills were the only thing keeping the Sun Devils afloat through the first 45 minutes.
UTSA responded on the following drive with force.
Quarterback Dalton Sturm had all of the juice as he started the Roadrunners’ offense with a 22 yard rush to midfield. He then connected with Jarveon Williams for 24 yards on third and 15 after taking a six-yard sack. The kid is nothing short of phenomenal and proved it to everyone as he put his entire team on his shoulders for the game.
He would finish the night completing 19 for 37 with 229 yards and three touchdowns, adding another 82 yards on the ground and tacking on another touchdown to bring his total to four. Sturm's only major mistake was an interception that was overturned by the review booth as the Sun Devil defender caught the ball with a toe on the sideline.
UTSA quarterback Jared Johnson did not see the field, as it looks like the staff has finally finished toying around with rotating the position.
Head coach Frank Wilson showed his “no flinching” mentality early by going for it on fourth and one on ASU’s 25-yard line. Sturm took a quarterback keeper 10 yards to the ASU 15, and after a five-yard false start penalty, he delivered back-to-back 10 yard strikes to Marquez McNair and JaBryce Taylor to give the Roadrunners a 7-3 lead.
A lead they would keep until there was 3:15 left in the game.
ASU was caught sleeping on special teams twice, botching fair catches and fumbling their punt returns to give the Roadrunners preferred field position inside the opposing 25.
The first came in the first quarter from stud running back Kalen Ballage, as he reached up and hit the ball as it bounced. Sturm would immediately hit Jalen Rhodes for an eleven-yard touchdown to bring the score to 14-3.
The second ASU special teams turnover came in the third quarter from De’Chavon Hayes and resulted in a 24-yard strike from Sturm to tight end Shaq Williams.
ASU’s offense couldn’t finish a drive until the end of the first half as quarterback Manny Wilkins led a three-minute, 91-yard air raid to bring the score within two point (14-12) before teams hit the locker rooms.
Wilkins would finish 15 for 31 with 264 yards and two touchdowns, one interception.
The score didn’t end up being the momentum swing Sun Devils’ fans hoped for, as UTSA received the ball to start the second half and Dalton Sturm hit the gas and sprinted 34 yards downfield for the touchdown. He was cutting up ASU’s defense all night on broken plays. His natural ability as a quarterback is inevitable and awe-inspiring.
The fourth quarter began with another Gonzalez field goal to bring the score to 28-18.
UTSA decided to change their approach and run out the clock early. Problem was, UTSA’s run game had been nonexistent aside from Sturm’s scrambles, as it had been all
game season to that point.
The defense continued to hold its own as hard as it could, but UTSA’s offense continued to give the ball back to the Sun Devils and the defense just couldn’t keep up.
UTSA’s offensive line collapsed and the conservative play calling kept the Roadrunners from crossing midfield a single time in the fourth. The Sun Devils led two long drives downfield to put up 17 points in the quarter.
UTSA had a shot at the two-minute drill with 3:15 left to play, but the backfield pressure was too much for the Roadrunners to shake as they fell 32-28.
Add it to the list of UTSA's world-crushing losses to Arizona schools as the Roadrunners came close to upsetting Arizona in 2014. The final score in the Alamodome rested at 26-23 after UTSA quarterback pitched a shovel pass straight to a Wildcat defender to end the game.
The raucous domed interior of the Alamodome is a launching pad for upsets and UTSA just keeps getting closer and closer to finally pulling off that elusive Power Five win.
UTSA travels to Norfolk, Virginia to begin conference play in a crucial match up with Old Dominion next week. If Frank Wilson and his squad can claim the road victory then UTSA will be well-positioned for their first ever bowl bid.