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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Football

Cougars outrun Roadrunners to earn road win


SAN ANTONIO — The Cougars took advantage of the Roadrunners’ abundant turnovers in the fourth quarter to run away with a 59-28 victory Saturday night at the Alamodome.

The Cougars scored 28 unanswered points that started late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach, vouched by four interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Freshman defensive tackle B.J. Singleton blocked a field goal that was picked up by redshirt freshman defensive back Brandon Wilson, who scooped it up and took it back 78 yards for touchdown, giving the Cougars a 31-21 lead with 3:11 left in the third quarter.

Freshman defensive back Brandon Wilson took back the blocked field goal 78 yards for a  touchdown that gave the Cougars a 31-21 lead in the third quarter.

Freshman defensive back Brandon Wilson took back the blocked field goal 78 yards for a touchdown that gave the Cougars a 31-21 lead in the third quarter. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

“I can’t believe this is happening. It was just a great feeling,” Wilson said jokingly.

Head coach Tony Levine said that was the difference.

“The turning point in the game, in my opinion, was the blocked field goal by Singleton.We’ve been changing up our block schemes week to week and we showed (UTSA) up a look that they haven’t seen, and it came through and it made a 10-point game,” Levine said.

The Roadrunners got within three with 47 seconds left in the third quarter, but their collapse, orchestrated by the Cougar defense and special teams forced the once-close game into an onslaught.

With the Cougars leading 31-28 late in the third quarter, freshman quarterback John O’Korn threw toward the right sideline and was almost intercepted, but instead, the ball tipped and fell right into the hands of senior receiver Xavier Maxwell, who then walked in for an easy touchdown from 22 yards out that started the rout.

“I really wasn’t expecting that,” Maxwell said. “I (saw) him in the area, so I just braced myself to look for a tip, and I got it.”

Maxwell had 42 receiving yards on three catches and two touchdowns. He scored from 12 yards on a pass that he had to reach back and snag that gave the Cougars a 21-14 lead, late in the second quarter.

Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry had his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game with 149 yards receiving on nine catches along with a touchdown.

Sophomore Ryan Jackson scored the Cougars’ first touchdown on a circle route to tie the game at 7 late in the first quarter. Jackson had 122 all-purpose yards: 72 yards rushing and 50 receiving.

O’Korn threw four touchdowns on 24-36 passing for 312 yards.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, the Cougar defense was unable to come up with a stop, as it allowed the Roadrunners and their up-tempo offense to march down the field and score on a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Earon Holmes, which tied the game at 21 going into halftime.

The Cougars let an opportunity slip away when junior receiver Daniel Spencer let a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone slip through his hands that would have made it a 28-21 game; instead, they were forced to settle with a 25-yard field goal by senior kicker Richie Leone.

The Roadrunners methodically drove down the field on their first possession and scored on a 12-yard slant to junior receiver Kam Jones for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Cougars countered on the ensuing drive when O’Korn scrambled to his right and found Greenberry for a wide open 42-yard catch-and-run that put them into UTSA territory.

The drive stalled when O’Korn’s pass fell incomplete to sophomore receiver Larry McDuffey on fourth down.

The Cougars would get the ball back when its defense forced a three-and-out. The offense then went 77 yards on eight plays, capped off by Jackson’s touchdown.

The Cougars took its first lead when freshman quarterback Greg Ward Jr. took the direct snap and raced toward the left pylon for a six-yard touchdown run that put the Cougars ahead early in the second quarter.

UTSA fought back, as it calmly moved the ball down the field on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a one-yard keeper from senior quarterback Eric Soza to tie the game at 14.

The Cougars have a bye week and will take their 4-0 record and play at home against Memphis on Oct. 12.

“Great win. We’ve played four and have won them all. We’ve got to stay focused and continue to be consistent,” Levine said. “Going in to this bye week, we’ve got to remain focused and get ready for a good Memphis team coming into town in two weeks.”

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