SAN ANTONIO – Although the game started at 6 p.m., it seemed as if UTSA slept through its alarms and missed the first quarter.
UTSA (5-4 overall, 2-4 C-USA) lost 24-19 in a gritty game against UAB. The Blazers came out firing, obviously waking up on time. Three of the Blazers first four drives went for touchdowns.
The Blazers (7-3, 5-2) were up 21-3 with 6:24 left in the half. They did it with an excellent run game led by Spencer Brown, who cracked 129 yards. UAB coach Bill Clark said that was all a coach could ever want. It was spurred by a Dalton Sturm interception on the second play of the game.
The interception was big for us,” UAB senior linebacker Shaw Jones said after the game. “It was something that we needed to get the momentum in our favor very early and the offense was able to turn it into some points for us.”
The momentum didn’t last long, though. As halftime got closer, the UTSA defense began to shut down. A three-and-out got the ball rolling, and Roadrunner coach Frank Wilson got his team ready to come out in the second half.
“We came into the locker room just trying to find a way to make something work,” UTSA safety Carl Austin III said. “Coach Wilson told us to be more physical, to play with speed and play with heart and to play for the guy next to you.”
That they did.
The defense was spectacular in the second half, there’s just no other way to put it. It forced the Blazers to into punts, fumbles or an interception on first five drives of the half. The sixth drive resulted in a field goal to extend the UAB lead 24-13.
In the midst of this, the Roadrunner sideline was beginning to explode. Fans were standing and back in the game for the first time since the first quarter.
“On the sideline when we come off– it’s electric,” Austin III said. “Even the offense is like, yeah, let’s go, we’re going to do it for y’all. So when we get a stop, it’s just fueling the fire for this team.”
All the hard work was noticed by coach Clark on the other sideline. He knew it was coming, though.
“We knew they were going to come out and challenge us in the second half and they did,” Clark said. “Give them credit. They made some big plays. We had a big takeaway. The defense just coming up with stops time after time and i was really pleased with our special teams.”
UAB put the game away when its kicker Nick Vogel hit a career-long 48-yard field goal. The three points meant UTSA needed to score 11 points with less than 8:32 on the clock.
It got in position to execute a fake punt, but coach Wilson said the Blazers covered it. Then, the punter actually decided to just kick it. Coach Wilson said he wasn’t mad at the punter and that he made the right choice.
UTSA is still looking for its sixth win of the year, which would mean bowl eligibility. It’s been elusive so far and with Marshall coming to town next week, it could be even harder.
“Well obviously we’re upset,” UTSA receiver Josh Stewart said. “We just lost, so i mean — but besides that, there’s still two more games ahead of us to punch our Bowl ticket. We got Marshall at home. That’s a home game. Especially last time myself and other seniors, we’re playing in the dome. So we just want to prepare this upcoming week and get ready for those guys.”
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