Roadrunners use strong second half to hold off McNeese State, 31-24
SAN ANTONIO — UTSA piled up 238 yards in the second half and the Roadrunners held off a late McNeese State rally for a 31-24 victory on Saturday in front of 25,784 fans at the Alamodome.
UTSA (6-4), which snapped a four-game losing streak, overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit by scoring 24 unanswered points to build a 31-10 advantage with 10 minutes to play.
The Cowboys (6-4) scored two late touchdowns and got the ball back at their own 39 with six seconds left, but quarterback Cody Stroud’s pass on the final play fell incomplete near the UTSA 20-yard line.
Eric Soza guided a 12-play, 69-yard drive on the Birds' first possession of the second half that he capped with a diving 4-yard touchdown scramble to the right side.
The Roadrunners defense then forced a McNeese State punt and the offense went to work again.
Soza kept a third-and-2 play alive and found Marcellus Mack on the sideline for six yards and a first down at the Cowboys 33. Four plays later, Evans Okotcha notched his school-record eighth rushing touchdown of the season with a 9-yard jaunt to the left side, extending the ball into the pylon, to put UTSA up by two scores.
The defense came up big on the next McNeese State drive, as Cody Berry forced a Marcus Wiltz fumble that was recovered by Triston Wade at the UTSA 30.
The offense responded by marching 70 yards on eight plays, which ended with a screen pass from Soza to Brandon Armstrong, who took it down the right sideline 31 yards for his first career TD and a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
After Crosby Adams fielded his second interception of the season at the UTSA 19, the Roadrunners converted that into a 31-yard field goal by Kristian Stern, which made it 31-10 with 9:55 left to play.
However, the Cowboys did not quit, as Stroud found Dylan Long for a 6-yard TD pass with 6:18 on the clock.
McNeese State then forced a three-and-out and promptly drove 86 yards on seven plays that culminated with a 3-yard scoring plunge by Wiltz at the 3:05 mark to make it a one-score game.
UTSA killed 2:59 off the clock before Stern was forced to punt on fourth down from the 17. He got off a 49-yarder under heavy pressure to put McNeese at its own 39 with six ticks left.
Stroud scrambled and heaved a long pass that was knocked away by Brian King as time expired.
Soza finished the day 24-for-37 for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Okotcha was the team's leading rusher (10-50) and receiver (3-37).
Stroud completed 34-of-46 passes for 346 yards and two TDs, while Wes Briscoe led all receivers with six catches for 99 yards and Wiltz registered 63 yards and a TD on 12 carries.
UTSA will play its final road game of the 2012 season next Saturday, Nov. 17, at Idaho (1-9, 1-3 WAC). Kickoff from the Kibbie Dome is scheduled for 4 p.m. (CT) and the game will be televised in San Antonio on KCWX-2.