UTSA’s defense ran amuck on Rice Saturday, holding the Owls’ offense to only two of 15 on third down conversions and forcing four turnovers on the day. In a game where offensive football practically didn’t exist the Roadrunner defense provided a bright spot.
Both offenses combined for 400 total yards. Readers of the offensive statistics would be hard pressed to believe there were 23 points scored in this game. Through the first half alone fans saw: 10 punts, seven three-and-outs, a turnover on downs, a fumble, an interception, and a field goal drive that netted -9 total yards.
With a 13-0 halftime lead, UTSA had just 97 total yards of offense.
Rice’s 47 total rushing yards were equally matched by UTSA’s 43 total passing yards. In the losing effort, Rice actually outpaced UTSA by 44 total yards offensively. Senior quarterback Shawn Stankavage threw for 158 yards behind 15 completions, but Rice went to junior quarterback Jackson Tyner on three draw-ups and two of them resulted in turnovers.
The quarterback hijinks proved the same on the Roadrunners’ sideline as well, with starter Cordale Grundy being switched for backup D.J. Gillins on the second series of the third quarter. Neither passer was impressive for UTSA as they combined for just eight completions on 22 attempts.
Each team managed to muster one drive longer than 50 yards, but neither could sustain a long drive all the way into the endzone. If it wasn’t for Tyner’s two turnovers this game may have been solely scored on place kicks.
Tyner’s first turnover came on UTSA cornerback Cassius Grady’s tip drill interception, which he returned 27 yards down to the Rice three yard line. The pick set up running back B.J Daniels for a three yard truck into the endzone.
Daniels was the only good thing on UTSA’s offense. He averaged 4.7 yard per carry against Rice and is now averaging 3.9 on the season. Unfortunately, UTSA’s sideline only opted to give him the ball 13 times. It’s head-scratching, to say the least, why coach Frank Wilson refuses to rely on Daniels as the offensive workhorse. He ended the day with 61 yards and a touchdown.
The Roadrunners’ secondary had their best showing of the year. Senior safeties C.J. Levine and Darryl Godfrey combined for 16 total tackles with Levine’s 10 (eight solo) leading the defense. The unit had two interceptions and seven deflected passes on the day.
That secondary success coupled with UTSA’s menacing front seven was all the Roadrunners would need to dominate the scoreboard. Upfront, UTSA’s defense caused three sacks and eights tackles for loss. Defensive tackle King Newton had two tackles for loss and a sack, while edge rushers Kevin Strong and Lorenzo Dantzler each had two backfield tackles as well. Freshman linebacker De’Marco Guidry also continues to prove himself a hammer. He had a couple of hits on special teams that were downright lethal.
Rice’s defense matched UTSA’s seven deflected passes and also had their share of success in the backfield. Despite only one sack, Rice had seven tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. Defensive tackle Zach Abercrumbia dominated the day with nine total tackles (seven solo) and two for loss.
Overall, this very well may have been the worst offensive affair C-USA West has to offer. On the UTSA side, it starts with very bad play calling and ends with poor game management. For reference, the Roadrunners ran back-to-back reverses on the opening series of the game. For the Owls, a lack of offensive talent can only produce so much even with the best play calling, though that wasn’t much better either.
The Roadrunners will take the win and run with it, and rightfully so. After the winless thoroughfare through three straight Power 5 teams they’ve now won three straight games to round out the overall record to .500. Also, for the first time, UTSA starts off C-USA play with a 2-0 conference record. They host LA Tech (3-2, 1-1 C-USA) in the Alamodome next Saturday for homecoming.
The loss drops Rice to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in C-USA. The Owls host UAB (4-1, 2-0 C-USA) next week.