EL PASO — UTSA jumped out to a 25-10 lead and held the UTEP offense to a pair of field goals en route to a 32-13 victory in its inaugural Conference USA game on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
The Roadrunners (2-2, 1-0 C-USA) racked up 385 yards of total offense, including a season-high 181 on the ground, and held their opponent without an offensive touchdown for the first time since a 56-3 win against Northwestern Oklahoma State on Sept. 22, 2012.
The UTSA defense limited the Miners, who came into the contest ranked 12th among Football Bowl Subdivision schools with 286.5 rushing yards per game, to just 99 on 29 carries (3.4 ypc). In all, the Miners (1-2, 0-1 C-USA) finished with just 218 yards of total offense, the fewest yards allowed this season. Drew Douglas led the defense with a career-high 11 tackles and Bennett Okotcha added nine stops and a pair of pass breakups.
Eric Soza completed 18-of-24 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown for UTSA, while David Glasco II led all players with 52 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Soza completed passes to 12 different receivers, including a team-high four to Jarveon Williams for 23 yards and a 53-yard strike to Brandon Freeman.
Meanwhile, Jameill Showers went 17-for-31 for 119 yards through the air for the Miners, who dropped a home conference opener for the first time since 2004. Autrey Golden led UTEP with 43 yards on six carries, while Eric Tomlinson recorded 30 yards on four catches.
UTSA struck quickly and took a 7-0 lead on the game’s opening possession with a seven-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by Brandon Armstrong’s 29-yard run. Glasco II shook off a hit and ran for a 5-yard gain on third down to extend the drive and, three plays later, Soza found Aaron Grubb for 17 yards before a Josiah Monroe block keyed Armstrong’s first rushing touchdown of the season.
However, Golden knotted the score by returning the ensuing kickoff 100 yards and the Miners grabbed a 10-7 lead on a 28-yard field goal from Jay Mattox later in the opening quarter.
Early in the second stanza, the Birds put together an eight-play, 80-yard drive to reclaim the lead for good.
UTSA did not face a third down on the drive, which was aided by a pair of catches for 18 yards by Williams. Following a 7-yard rush from Glasco II, Kam Jones took an end-around 28 yards to paydirt for his first touchdown since a 58-yard catch and run at South Alabama to open last season.
A two-point conversion by Seth Grubb on a 2-yard rush pushed the lead to 15-10 and, after a UTEP punt, the Birds drove 64 yards to set up a 37-yard field goal by Sean Ianno for an eight-point advantage.
Will Ritter helped the UTSA defense force a three-and-out with a stop of Autrey behind the line of scrimmage and Soza quickly drove the offense down the field with a two-play, 70-yard drive that ended with Cole Hubble’s 17-yard touchdown catch for a 25-10 lead at the break.
UTSA held UTEP to just 74 yards (33 rush/41 pass) in the opening half, while racking up a season-high 303 (144 rush/159 pass).
The Miners defense tightened in the second half and held the Roadrunners scoreless in the third quarter, but they managed just a 24-yard field goal for what would be their only points the rest of the way.
Glasco II put the exclamation point on UTSA’s night with a 17-yard rushing score up the middle to cap a 10-play, 77-yard drive in the fourth quarter that chewed up 5:45. The score, which was the San Antonio native’s third on the ground this season, extended the lead to 32-13 with 2:45 to play.
The Miners had one last chance, but Okotcha tackled Josh Bell after just a 2-yard gain on 4th-and-7 with 1:36 on the clock. The Roadrunners kneeled three times to polish off the victory.
UTSA will play its final non-conference game of the season next Saturday, Sept. 28, when it hosts Houston (3-0) at the Alamodome.