The UTSA defense forced four turnovers and held Rice to 222 yards of offense in a 20-7 victory in Conference USA action on Saturday night at Rice Stadium.
With the win, the Roadrunners improved to 3-3 overall and now are off to the program’s first-ever 2-0 start to conference play.
UTSA got interceptions from Cassius Grady and Teddrick McGhee, while DeQuarius Henry and Brenndan Johnson both recovered fumbles to help the defense limit the Owls (1-5, 0-2 C-USA) to just 47 rushing yards and three points, tying the school record for fewest points allowed in a game (2011 vs. Northeastern State; 2012 vs. Northwestern Oklahoma State).
C.J. Levine led all players with 10 tackles (eight solos) and he broke up three passes. Les Maruo added eight tackles, including a sack, while Jarrod Carter-McLin and Darryl Godfrey pitched in with six stops apiece.
Meanwhile B.J. Daniels led the offense with 61 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Blaze Moorhead led the receivers with two catches for 27 yards.
Place-kicker Jared Sackett got the Roadrunners on the board first in the opening quarter when he split the uprights from 44 yards.
UTSA converted a pair of Rice turnovers into 10 points in the second stanza to take a 13-0 lead.
Grady tipped a Shawn Stankavage pass into the air and then caught it and returned it 27 yards to the 3-yard line. It marked the junior cornerback’s first interception and the Roadrunners’ fourth pick of the season. On the next play, Daniels plowed into the end zone for his third touchdown of the season with 6:56 left until halftime.
On the Owls’ next possession, Henry came out of a scrum with the football after a mishandled snap to set the visitors up at the 14-yard line. After UTSA was unable to find paydirt, Sackett drilled his second field goal of the night, this time from 40 yards for his ninth from that distance or longer this season.
Rice’s Haden Tobola booted a 28-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to cut the UTSA lead to 13-3, but that is as close as the Owls would get.
The Roadrunners came up with their third turnover when Johnson scooped up a loose ball at the 22-yard line. Five plays later, Jalen Rhodes found the end zone on a 1-yard dive and Sackett’s PAT provided the final margin.
McGhee’s pick stopped the ensuing Rice drive near midfield to secure the win.
The Roadrunners will return home and host Louisiana Tech (3-2, 1-1) on Saturday, Oct. 13. Kickoff in UTSA’s annual Homecoming game is slated for 6 p.m. at the Alamodome.
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