MOSCOW, Idaho — Eric Soza accounted for 321 yards and tied a school record with three rushing touchdowns and UTSA held off a late rally by Idaho by a score of 34-27 on Saturday at the Kibbie Dome.
Soza was 23-of-36 for 232 yards through the air, but the junior signal caller hurt the Vandals with his legs by rushing for a season-high 89 yards and three scores on 11 carries to guarantee the Roadrunners (7-4, 2-3 WAC) a winning season in just their second year of existence.
UTSA built a 20-3 halftime lead by piling up 276 yards and holding Idaho (1-10, 1-5 WAC) to just 152, but the Vandals fought back to knot the score at 20 early in the fourth quarter.
After a pair of Taylor Davis third-quarter touchdown passes to Mike Scott (10 yards) and Najee Lovett (12 yards) made it 20-17, Idaho used its second successful fake punt of the afternoon to set up the game-tying field goal.
On 4th-and-five from the Vandals 34 early in the final stanza, punter Bobby Cowan tossed a short pass to a wide-open Camryn Harris and he raced all the way down to the UTSA 2-yard line. Delay of game and holding penalties pushed the ball back to the 17 and two incomplete passes into the end zone set up a 22-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar.
The Roadrunners responded with a quick-strike scoring drive to reclaim the lead.
Soza found Brandon Freeman open on the left sideline for a 50-yard pass down to the Idaho 26. Evans Okotcha then took a screen pass 21 yards down to the 1-yard line and Soza snuck in on the next play for the go-ahead score.
UTSA’s defense came up big on the next possession.
After forcing the Vandals into a fourth down from their own 28, Nic Johnston blocked a Cowan punt to hand the ball to the offense at the 21. Three plays later, Soza raced untouched up the middle for nine yards on an option keeper to make it 34-20 with 7:05 left to play.
Idaho struck quickly two minutes later when Davis found Scott all alone in the end zone for a 34-yard TD to make it a one-score game.
The Vandals then forced a UTSA punt with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, but Justin Veltung muffed the return while trying to scoop up the bouncing ball and Kam Jones recovered at the Idaho 37. Three plays later, Soza hit CheRod Simpson on a middle screen pass for 12 yards to clinch the win.
Soza matched Okotcha’s program record for rushing touchdowns and he also completed his 23 passes to 11 different receivers, including a team-leading four to Kenny Harrison.
UTSA got on the board first when Soza took the Roadrunners on a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive on the opening possession. Jones weaved his way through the Idaho defense for a 24-yard run off a direct snap that helped set up a 9-yard touchdown scramble by Soza.
Ferrington Macon then recovered a Ryan Bass fumble on the UTSA 38 to set up a 12-play march that chewed up 6:20 and resulted in a 27-yard Sean Ianno field goal to make it 10-0.
Farquhar got the Vandals on the board with a 51-yard field goal with 1:16 left to play in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Soza had rushes of 26 and 15 to help take UTSA down to the Idaho 5-yard line. Two plays later, David Glasco II found paydirt off right tackle to stake the Birds to a 17-3 advantage midway through the second stanza.
Triston Wade later picked off his fourth pass of the season and returned it 18 yards to help set up a 24-yard field goal by Ianno just before halftime.
UTSA will wrap up its season next Saturday, Nov. 24, against I-35 rival Texas State (3-7, 1-3 WAC). Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Alamodome.