No. 24 Houston escapes with 37-35 victory over UTSA in 3 OTs

Sep 3, 2022, 5:00 AM | Updated: 6:22 pm
Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) leaps over UTSA safety Kelechi Nwachuku (6) to score during ov...

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) leaps over UTSA safety Kelechi Nwachuku (6) to score during overtime in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Dana Holgorsen would prefer Clayton Tune not run the ball out of concern for his health. The Houston coach knew he could not stop his senior quarterback from doing so, though. And neither could UTSA.

Tune leaped over a defender to score on a 13-yard run and the 24th-ranked Cougars escaped with 37-35 victory over UTSA in three overtimes Saturday.

“If there’s a will, there’s a way,” Tune said. “I just wanted to win more than they did. So, I was going to do anything possible to make it happen.”

Per NCAA rules for a third overtime, Tune’s winning run was a 2-point conversion. The Roadrunners were unable to match the score as their final pass floated out of bounds.

Tune was 22 of 32 for 206 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 51 yards and a TD.

Houston rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half at the Alamodome to snap UTSA’s 10-game home winning streak.

“They’ve got that 12th man on their side,” Roadrunners coach Jeff Traylor said. “He’s the best player in college football. His name is Mo — Mo Mentum. We gave it to them, and you can’t give Houston momentum.”

Houston dominated the final quarter, maintaining possession for 10 minutes, 30 seconds in driving 77 yards on 18 plays. The drive ended with Bubba Baxa kicking a 35-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining for a 24-21 lead.

Tune ran for three first-down conversions in the final drive of regulation, including two during which he scrambled out of the pocket after not finding an open receiver.

UTSA matched the feat in far less time, driving 55 yards in 23 seconds for a 37-yard field goal by Jared Sackett to force overtime.

Baxa and Sackett kicked matching field goals in the first overtime.

After Tune scored on a 1-yard run and threw for the 2-point conversion in the second overtime, Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris matched the output by running in the conversion after tossing a touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark.

“Nothing that happened surprised me,” Holgorsen said. “I knew it was going to be a tough game. I knew we were going to have to fight hard.”

Harris completed 28 of 43 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 63 yards and a score.

Holgorsen expressed concerns over crowd noise being pumped into the stadium, which is forbidden by the NCAA and was vehemently denied by UTSA.

There was no need for artificial celebration as the Roadrunners put on a show for the 37,526 in attendance, the fifth-largest crowd in school history.

SHOULDERING THE LOSS

Traylor took full responsibility for the loss.

UTSA was called for an illegal substitution penalty with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter that resulted in a first down instead of a turnover on downs. The penalty was called after the Roadrunners stopped the Cougars for no gain on fourth-and-1.

Houston was able to score on that drive, cutting UTSA’s lead to 21-14.

“The mistake is one that I will never forgive myself over the rest of my coaching career,” Traylor said.

“We had such a great opportunity here at the Dome. The head ball coach let it slip away.”

SOUND CHOICE

Baxa was named Houston’s starting kicker after an extended competition that lasted longer than Holgorsen expected.

Baxa rewarded Holgorsen by converting both of his field goal attempts as well as three extra points.

“You’ve got to show that you can make those things, too,” Holgorsen said. “I’m kind of glad that he was put in that situation.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Houston: After a slow start, Tune demonstrated he could lead the Cougars with his poise. In addition to converting crucial third downs by running, Tune also threw 32 passes without an interception.

UTSA: The Roadrunners continued to show their resiliency and ability to match up against national competition following last season’s 12-2 mark, which resulted in UTSA’s first national ranking.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cougars should remain in the AP Top 25 and could move up in the rankings following a close victory against a tough opponent on the road. The Roadrunners had won 11 of 12 at the Alamodome entering Saturday’s game.

UP NEXT

Houston: At Texas Tech on Sept. 10 and hosts Kansas on Sept. 17.

UTSA: At Army on Sept. 10 and at Texas on Sept. 17.

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25.

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No. 24 Houston escapes with 37-35 victory over UTSA in 3 OTs