MOSCOW, Idaho – Eric Soza accounted for 321 yards and tied the school record with three rushing touchdowns, and UTSA built a 17-point lead and held on for a 34-27 victory at Idaho on Saturday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome.
Soza was 23-of-36 for 232 yards through the air, but the junior signal caller hurt the Vandals with his legs by rushing for 89 yards and three scores on 11 carries to guarantee the Roadrunners (7-4) a winning season in just their second year of existence.
UTSA built a 20-3 halftime lead by piling up 276 yards and holding the Vandals (1-10) to just 152, but Idaho fought back to knot the score at 20-20 early in the fourth quarter.
After a pair of Taylor Davis third-quarter touchdown passes to Mike Scott (10 yards) and Najee Lovett (12 yards) made it 20-17, Idaho used its second fake punt of the afternoon to set up the game-tying field goal. On fourth down and five from the Idaho 34 early in the final stanza, punter Bobby Cowan tossed a short pass to Camryn Harris on the left side and he raced all the way down to the UTSA 2-yard line. A couple of costly penalties pushed the Vandals back to the 17 and two incomplete passes into the end zone set up a 22-yard field goal by Trey Farquhar.
The Roadrunners responded with a quick-strike scoring drive to reclaim the lead. Soza found Brandon Freeman open on the left sideline for a 50-yard pass down to the Idaho 26. Evans Okotcha then took a screen pass for 21 yards down to the 1-yard line and Soza snuck it in on the next play for the go-ahead score.
UTSA’s defense came up big on the next possession. After forcing the Vandals into a fourth down from their own 28, Nic Johnston blocked a Cowan punt to hand the ball to the offense at the 21. Three plays later, Soza raced untouched up the middle on an option keeper and Sean Ianno’s extra point made it 34-20 with 7:05 left to play.
Idaho struck quickly two minutes later when Davis found Mike Scott all alone in the end zone for a 34-yard TD to make it a one-score game.
The Vandals then forced a UTSA punt with two and a half minutes remaining, but Justin Veltung muffed the return while trying to scoop up the bouncing ball and Kam Jones recovered at the Idaho 37. Three plays later, Soza hit CheRod Simpson on a middle screen pass and he raced 12 yards for a first down to clinch the win.
Soza matched Okotcha’s program record for rushing touchdowns and he also posted an individual season high in rushing yards. The Beeville native completed his 23 passes to 11 different receivers, four to Kenny Harrison and three apiece to Okotcha (55 yards) and Brandon Armstrong.
UTSA got on the board first as Soza took the Roadrunners on a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive on the opening possession. Jones weaved his way through the Idaho defense for a 24-yard run off a direct snap that helped set up a 9-yard touchdown scramble by Soza.
On Idaho’s initial drive, Ferrington Macon recovered a Ryan Bass fumble on the UTSA 38 to set up a 12-play march that chewed up six minutes and 20 seconds and resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Ianno to make it 10-0.
Farquhar got the Vandals on the board with a 51-yard field goal that snuck just inside the upright with 1:16 left to play in the first quarter.
On the next possession, Soza had rushes of 26 and 15 to help take UTSA down to the Idaho 5-yard line. Two plays later, David Glasco II found paydirt off right tackle and Ianno’s extra point staked the Birds to a 17-3 advantage midway through the second stanza.
Triston Wade, who shared the team high of seven tackles with Brandon Reeves, picked off his fourth pass of the season and returned it 18 yards to help set up a 24-yard field goal by Ianno just before halftime that gave UTSA a 17-point lead.
The Roadrunners return home to host Texas State in the final game of the season on Saturday, Nov. 24. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at the Alamodome.