UTSA puts scare into La. Tech but loses 51-27
RUSTON, La. (AP)
Texas-San Antonio put a bit of a scare into No. 22 Louisiana Tech before giving up a couple of late scores.
When quarterback Eric Soza hit Cole Hicks for a 14-yard touchdown 3 minutes into the fourth quarter, UTSA trailed just 37-27. But the Bulldogs (8-1, 3-0 WAC) converted a fake field goal into a touchdown on their next series and scored again with 14 seconds remaining to get some distance, and they went on to a 51-27 win Saturday.
UTSA (5-4, 1-3 WAC) dropped its fourth consecutive game after opening the season with five straight victories. It was the Roadrunners' inaugural contest against a nationally-ranked Football Bowl Subdivision foe. Tech, the defending WAC champs and the preseason picks to repeat, won a ninth consecutive WAC contest.
Roadrunners coach Larry Coker didn't want to talk about scares.
''Like I told the guys, we did not come here to play close or scare anybody or make some kind of statement,'' Coker said. ''We came here to win a football game, and I think we played that way. I think we played well.''
The Bulldogs won despite the teams exchanging enough barbs to bring 29 penalties for almost 300 yards in the inaugural contest between current WAC members who will be moving to Conference USA next summer. Among the infractions were 13 of the personal foul variety, including two consecutive flags on Tech coach Sonny Dykes when he argued the ejection of offensive lineman Oscar Johnson.
''I'm not sure what was going on with all the penalties or why,'' Dykes said. ''That's not our team. I wasn't real fired up about some of the stuff happening out there. (When he got flagged) I was trying to find out what Oscar Johnson was ejected for and went out on the field. I had to let (the officials) come to me.''
The loss overshadowed a strong showing by UTSA quarterback Eric Soza, who completed 23 of 41 throws for a school-record 314 yards and four scores.
''Well, he played awfully well. We played a good team tonight and he just stepped up and played like he had not missed anything,'' Coker said. ''I am really proud of him, and I think the guys really surrounded him and stepped up.''
Freshman Kenneth Dixon scored three times and now holds the Tech single-season record for most touchdowns. Dixon is just one score shy of tying Marshall Faulk's all-time NCAA record for freshmen.
Quarterback Colby Cameron threw for 348 yards, the seventh 300-yard game of his career, which ties him with former NFL great Terry Bradshaw for fourth all-time in Ruston.
''I had no clue about the records,'' Cameron said. ''It's pretty unbelievable to be mentioned in the same category as Terry Bradshaw. It's pretty cool.''
Playing in front of 23,645 fans under steamy conditions in Joe Aillet Stadium, the Bulldogs converted a fake field goal into a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to put away the visitors.
''We had worked on it all week and it felt like the right time to call it,'' Dykes said. ''(David) Gru made a good throw and (Malon) Lee made a good catch. It was defended well. Sometimes players overcome a bad play and bad coaching. That play justified all the time we spent this week working on the fake field goal.''
Cameron's touchdown throws went to Quinton Patton, Myles White and R.P. Stuart. He was one of just two remaining FBS quarterbacks without a pick entering the contest and he remained pick-free.
Soza tossed touchdowns to Cole Hubble (twice), Earon Holmes and Cole Hicks
After the Gru-to-Lee touchdown, Tech added a 6-yard scoring run from Dixon with 13 seconds left for the final tally.
But the visitors didn't make it easy.
The Roadrunners pulled to 27-21 on their opening possession of the second half when they went 80 yards in 9 plays, finishing up with a 17-yard pass from Soza to Holmes. The Bulldogs pushed their advantage back to 34-21 on their first second-half possession when Dixon scored on a 7-yard run. That lead was extended to 37-21 two plays into the fourth quarter when Matt Nelson, who had missed five consecutive field goals, hit one from 22 yards out.
UTSA would scrap its way to 37-27 when Soza found Cole Hicks from 14 yards out.