After going down 28-14 in the third quarter, the Miners battled back through five overtimes to steal a victory on UTSA’s homecoming day. It was the longest game in Conference USA history.
The home team has never won when these two teams meet.
The Roadrunners' offense made crucial mistakes in key moments to keep them from winning the game. Coupled with a poor defensive effort that simply could not stop the Miners, UTSA was unable to find a way to win despite controlling the ball for nearly ten minutes longer than UTEP.
The game was filled with scrappy scuffles, trick plays, and bad officiating.
UTSA trotted out punter Yannis Routsas on the opening drive to set up for a field goal, but the call ended up being a fake as Routsas completed a 30-yard pass to Jarrod McLin. Running back Jarveon Williams then took a direct snap and threw a three yard pass to tight end Shaq Williams for the first score of the game.
UTSA kept the big plays coming as quarterback Dalton Sturm hit Kerry Thomas for a 53-yard score. Thomas caught five passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. The junior now holds sole possession of the UTSA career touchdown reception record with nine touchdowns to his name.
The Roadrunners were able to hold UTEP to back-to-back three-and-outs to start the game, but Aaron Jones broke loose for a 41-yard touchdown run on their third drive of the day, bringing the score to 14-7 at the end of the first quarter. Jones finished with 21 carries for 113 yards (5.4 average).
In the second quarter, UTSA lost starting center Austin Pratt after he was ejected for throwing a punch at UTEP guard Gino Bresolin. It certainly didn't look like a punch more so than it looked like Pratt just getting Bresolin off of his tail. Bresolin was all over Pratt after the play had already been called dead.
Pratt is the most crucial component of UTSA’s offensive line. His shift to center against Southern Miss revamped the backfield protection for the Roadrunners, and his loss was certainly felt.
Later in the quarter, UTEP defensive end Brian Madunezim tackled Sturm about two seconds after the play was whistled dead, but he was not ejected from the game.
As regulation winded down, UTSA’s offense was driving for a chance to take a last second lead. On a dart over the middle, a wide open Brady Jones dropped a perfect pass that would've put the Roadrunners in field goal position. The pass could have sent Jones to the endzone, actually, as UTEP’s secondary was nowhere in between him and the goal line.
The score going into overtime was 28-28 as both teams were unable to score in the fourth quarter. After exchanging field goals, the second overtime saw two 25-yard touchdown passes: one from UTEP quarterback Ryan Metz to Aaron Jones, and Sturm to Brady Jones in response. Jones had a stellar diving catch in the endzone for UTSA.
In the third overtime, UTSA converted the two extra points and it seemed that victory was assured, but Metz responded by converting for two with a pass of his own.
Metz finished 15 for 23 with 211 yards and three touchdowns. A much easier stat line to accomplish when you have a clean pocket, and Metz was under no pressure from UTSA’s defense for a majority of the game.
Sturm went 18 for 34 with 214 yards and a pick and had to do a whole lot of scrambling without Pratt at center.
In the fourth overtime, UTSA recovered a UTEP fumble to put them in prime position to win. After moving the ball from the hash mark to the center of the field, Sturm scrambled out of bonds to the put the field goal attempt back on the hash. Victor Falcon’s 42- yard attempt was no good; wide left. He missed three of five field goals on the day.
Falcon made his field goal in the fifth overtime, but Metz delivered a six-yard strike to Warren Redix for the walk-off victory.
The win for UTEP snaps their five-game losing streak and gives them their first conference win. They take on Old Dominion at home in the Sun Bowl next week.
The loss jeopardizes UTSA’s hope of making a bowl game and competing for the West title, and it also keeps them from getting over .500, as they now sit at 3-4 as they set to take on a very hot North Texas team next week in the Alamodome.