Roadrunners hang on for 21-13 victory at North Texas on Saturday
DENTON — Evans Okotcha rushed for a season-high 104 yards on 16 carries and his younger brother, Bennett, picked off a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game to help secure a 21-13 victory for UTSA at North Texas on Saturday.
With their fourth win in a row, the Roadrunners improved to 6-5 overall and they remain in contention for the Conference USA West Division title at 5-2. The Mean Green saw their record fall to 7-4 (5-2 C-USA).
UTSA led throughout, but it had to hang on in the final minutes to secure its eighth win in its last 12 road outings.
The Mean Green took over on its own 29-yard line after Sean Ianno missed a field goal with 1:12 remaining.
Derek Thompson promptly completed three consecutive passes to get the ball down to the UTSA 45. After three straight incompletions, he found Darius Terrell for 12 yards to extend the possession. Thompson then connected with Darnell Smith over the middle for 25 yards all the way down to the 3-yard line. The game clock ran out, but the officials put one second back on the board for one final play. Thompson threw into the right flat where Bennett Okotcha stepped in front of the pass and returned it 28 yards to clinch the victory.
Eric Soza completed 30-of-49 passes for 274 yards to 11 different receivers and he added 36 rushing yards and a pair of second-half scores. Marcellus Mack hauled in a career-high six of those throws for 36 yards.
UTSA struck first on the opening possession of the game when Kam Jones took a direct snap around the right edge for 40 yards for his sixth overall and fifth rushing touchdown of the season to cap a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march.
North Texas then took advantage of a Roadrunners turnover to get on the board.
Marcus Trice picked off a Soza toss and returned it 14 yards to the UTSA 31-yard line, which set up Zach Paul's 44-yard field goal early in the second quarter to make it 7-3.
The defense held the Mean Green to 92 yards of offense and six first downs in the opening half. UTSA also held a 17:57-12:03 edge in time of possession after registering 262 yards and 16 first downs during the first 30 minutes.
UTSA marched 75 yards on nine plays on its first drive after halftime to take a 14-3 advantage, as Evans Okotcha’s 38-yard rush helped set up Soza's 2-yard touchdown run.
The Mean Green blocked a punt and took over at the UTSA 40 late in the third quarter and eventually marched inside the 10 for a first-and-goal from the 9-yard line. However, the Roadrunners defense held North Texas to a 21-yard field goal by Paul to make it 14-6 with 13:35 remaining in the contest.
The Roadrunners responded with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring march that was highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Soza to Cole Hubble and capped by a 10-yard Soza keeper. UTSA was 4-for-4 on third downs on the drive and it took a 21-6 lead with 8:06 left.
North Texas pulled to within one score less than three minutes later when Thompson found Drew Miller on a screen pass from six yards out to make it 21-13 with 5:38 on the clock.
The Roadrunners will conclude their regular season next Saturday, Nov. 30, when they host Louisiana Tech (4-7, 3-4 C-USA). Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.