UTSA place kicker Jared Sackett booted a 40-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in regulation to edge the Roadrunners past the Thundering Herd. It was an all-too-fitting finish to a game where neither team could muster up any sustained offensive success.
In the pre-game, UTSA celebrated 25 seniors playing their last home contest in the Alamodome. As fate would have it, Sackett, a true freshman, would carry his veterans to the promised land with a flawless kicking performance.
The walk-on was three for three with two 24-yard kicks in the first half and the 40-yard boot to win it. He actually hit the 40-yard kick twice after Marshall head coach Doc Holliday iced the freshman’s first attempt.
UTSA fans would fret not; the Fort Worth native is now 17 for 19 on the year, with his 89.5% yield currently leading C-USA. He’s proven his consistency throughout the year, and now he’s also proven his clutch gene.
Sackett was the shining light but all around UTSA played deceivingly well.
The Roadrunner defense once again proved stout as Marshall was held to only one scoring drive for the first time all season. The offense outpaced that of Marshall by 78 total yards and controlled possession 12 minutes longer than the Herd. They also earned 11 more first downs with 23 total.
Those numbers are clearly not indicative of the final score, but getting into the endzone has been a problem all year for UTSA offensive coordinator Frank Scelfo. Though the Roadrunners made five trips to the redzone they just couldn’t find a way to break the endzone plane.
UTSA’s goal line attempts went as follows: failed third and goal from the four, failed third and two from the six, and a lost fumble on first and goal from the six.
The lost fumble from running back Tyrell Clay was writing on the wall for Roadrunner fans. Coming immediately after a UTSA interception from cornerback Austin Jupe, it felt inevitable that the Roadrunners would again find a way to lose a game.
Then, UTSA punter and holder Yannis Routsas fumbled a snap on what would have been a 34-yard field goal attempt from Sackett. The field goal would have put UTSA up by two possessions, but Marshall took over with 4:14 remaining on the clock, down 6-0 and a chance to steal the lead. The inevitable was happening.
Sure enough, Herd quarterback Chase Litton took control of his offense and threw eight consecutive passes, completing six of them to drive 74 yards downfield. He hit senior wide receiver Hyleck Foster for a 20-yard touchdown to take the lead with only 1:31 remaining in the game. Litton accounted for 189 of Marshall’s 229 total yards.
After the touchback UTSA’s offense came out with two timeouts remaining and 48 yards to gain to reach the 27 - where Sackett has previously made his career long of 44 yards.
Quarterback Dalton Sturm answered Litton’s brilliance with that of his own, first hitting Marquez McNair for 14 yards and then completing to longtime target Kerry Thomas back-to-back for 27 more.
There was one more senior receiver to get involved: Josh Stewart. The wide out delivered in a big way, withstanding a pulverizing hit after the catch to bring UTSA into Sackett’s field goal range.
The play saved UTSA’s bowl hopes as the Roadrunners are now bowl eligible for the second consecutive year. The win is also UTSA’s only victory against a team with a winning record this season.
Albeit not the prettiest, Roadrunner fans will gladly accept the results and cross their fingers as they head into Ruston to take on LA Tech in next week’s season finale. Now at 6-4, (3-4 C-USA) a seventh win is vital for UTSA, as C-USA now has more bowl eligible teams than outstanding bowl affiliations. Finishing the season with just six wins could lead to some nail biting come selection weekend.
Marshall, now 7-4 (4-3 C-USA), will return home for their Senior Day when Southern Miss (also 7-4) travels to Huntington.