Josiah Tauaefa posted nine tackles and two-and-a-half sacks and UTSA held off Texas State, 25-21, in the H-E-B I-35 Showdown on Saturday night at the Alamodome.
Tauaefa had 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and a key forced fumble that was returned for a touchdown on the first possession of the evening to help lead the Roadrunners (1-3) to their third win in as many meetings with the Bobcats (1-3). The junior linebacker helped lead a defense that limited Texas State to 248 yards of offense, including just 26 on the ground.
Meanwhile, Jalen Rhodes rushed for a game-high 76 yards on 17 carries and Greg Campbell Jr. caught seven passes for 71 yards to pace the UTSA offense.
The Roadrunners led by two scores in the fourth quarter but had to hold off the Bobcats in the final minutes to secure their first victory of the season.
Sophomore place-kicker Jared Sackett drilled a 44-yard field goal with 10:14 left to play to give UTSA a 23-14 lead.
Texas State pulled to within two points after reserve quarterback Tyler Vitt found Hutch White open over the middle for a 13-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes left on the clock.
The visitors would get the ball back one more time, as UTSA was forced to punt with a little more than two minutes remaining. Senior punter and Ray Guy Award watch list member Yannis Routsas pinned the Bobcats at their own 2-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, senior Kevin Strong Jr. tackled Vitt in the end zone for a safety to make it 25-21.
UTSA recovered the onside kick with 1:49 left and only had to kneel it three times to seal the win.
Brenndan Johnson registered six tackles for the defense, while Les Maruo had four stops, one quarterback hurry and his first interception in a UTSA uniform. Clayton Johnson also picked off a pass for his third career INT.
UTSA blitzed out to an early lead thanks Tauaefa's strip-sack on the first drive of the night. The Lake Dallas High School product wrapped up Texas State starting quarterback Willie Jones III for a loss of 11 yards and jarred the ball loose, which was scooped up by Lorenzo Dantzler and returned 27 yards for a touchdown. It marked the second straight year that UTSA's first TD against the Bobcats came via a fumble return.
On the Roadrunners' next possession, Tykee Ogle-Kellogg made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone on a 7-yard pass from Cordale Grundy to help put the home team up by two scores. The first career TD catch for the true freshman put an exclamation point on a drive that went 58 yards in 10 plays and chewed up 4:44.
Texas State finally got on the board when Vitt capped a six-play, 64-yard drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak late in the first quarter.
Sackett provided the only points of the second stanza when he drilled a 40-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the half that gave the Roadrunners a 17-7 advantage.
The Bobcats clawed back to within three late in the third quarter. Vitt scrambled on third down and found Keenen Brown open for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Stewart's extra point made it 17-14 UTSA.
Sackett, a Lou Groza Award watch list member, connected from 40 yards for the second time early in the fourth to put UTSA up by six.
The Roadrunners got the ball right back when Hunter Duplessis executed an onside kick that was recovered by Dadrian Taylor at the UTSA 46. Sackett drilled his third field goal of the night, this one from 44 yards with 10:14 remaining, to make it a two-score game once again. The sophomore from Fort Worth is now 6-of-7 this season after registering his second career three-field goal outing.
The Roadrunners will host UTEP (0-4) in the Conference USA opener for both teams next Saturday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at the Alamodome.