5 observations from Houston’s 37-35 win over UTSA

Houston Cougars receiver Nathaniel Dell starred with two touchdowns against UTSA on Sept. 3 in San Antonio. (Courtesy Sean Thomas)

5 observations from Houston’s 37-35 win over UTSA

The Houston Cougars opened their season with a thrilling overtime win over UTSA. Here are five thoughts on the victory:

A win is a win, UH finds a way

After striking first against the Roadrunners on Saturday, the Cougars struggled tremendously to get any momentum for three quarters of the game.

UTSA scored 21 unanswered points, but then in the fourth quarter, a break for the Cougars in the form of a penalty against the Roadrunners for too many men on the field gifted UH a first down. What would have been a fourth-down stop for UTSA turned into a touchdown drive that resulted in 17 unanswered points.

A strong defensive stand by Sack Avenue’s Derek Parish and Nelson Ceaser, which resulted in an interception, set up the UH offense to tie the game at 21. UH kicker Bubba Baxa gave the Cougars the go-ahead score with a 35-yard field goal.

The UH defense, however, allowed UTSA quarterback Frank Harris to hit receiver Joshua Cephus for a 30-yard gain. Harris then hit tight end Oscar Cardenas for 25 yards that set up the game-tying 37-yard field goal from kicker Jared Sackett.

In overtime, UH settled for a field goal to get the 27-24 edge after UTSA defensive lineman Asyrus Simon got a huge stop for the Roadrunners. It looked like quarterback Clayton Tune had receiver Nathaniel Dell open on a slant down the middle had Simon’s arm not blocked the pass.

UH’s defense forced the field goal attempt by Sackett. In double overtime, Tune was able to score the go-ahead touchdown on a QB draw, and then he found Dell for the two-point conversion. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris followed it up by hitting receiver De’Corian Clark for the touchdown, and Harris tied the game on a keeper of his own.

In the third OT, Tune had the play of the game when he hurdled UTSA safety Kelechi Nwachuku to give UH the 37-35 edge. UTSA was unable to convert and UH escaped with the win.

Houston offensive line struggles against UTSA

Despite the win, the UH offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Tune against the Roadrunners for much of the game. The UTSA defense was in the UH backfield early and often, allowing four sacks and nine tackles for loss.

With the inability to buy time, Tune was hurried often throughout the afternoon. The unit also struggled with penalties, such as on a pivotal third and goal from the five-yard line to start the fourth quarter. While Tune was able to overcome it on the drive and hit Dell for their second touchdown connection of the game, the penalty did not make things any easier.

UH’s receivers struggle with drops early, shine late

The Cougars’ receivers struggled to make plays against the Roadrunners. Receiver Matthew Golden had a key drop in the second quarter that would have led to a third down conversion. Fellow receiver Samuel Brown dropped a pass earlier during Houston’s scoring drive that could have been a touchdown.

Fortunately for UH, the drop by Brown did not hurt them on that drive as the Cougars scored a touchdown regardless when Tune connected with receiver Dell on an 11-yard pass off the play fake for the first score of the game that gave UH an early 7-0 lead.

To the unit’s credit, the Cougars’ receivers showed out in the fourth quarter. Receiver Joseph Manjack IV made a sensational one-handed catch for the score that made up for a good amount of the other receivers’ mistakes.

Defense struggles with UTSA’s tempo, cleans up in the fourth, sort of

UH’s defense did a great job of containing UTSA in the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, the UTSA offense found its groove and the defense struggled to keep pace during the second and third quarters allowing the Roadrunners to build a 21-7 cushion.

Late in the fourth quarter, however, the defense was able to change the momentum of the game when defensive lineman Parish rushed UTSA quarterback Harris and forced the ball to pop into the air.

It was then intercepted by defensive lineman Ceaser, which set up UH in the red zone. On the following play, Tune hit Manjack for the 20-yard score that tied the game at 21. However, UH allowed UTSA to drive 55 yards and tie the game in the final 23 seconds of the game.

Tune leads Cougars in the fourth

Tune, like the rest of the team, had a relatively quiet start to the game but turned things up in the final period.

The Carrollton native led UH to 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, and he finished with 206 yards, three touchdowns and the play of the game. He connected with Dell five times for 50 yards and two scores.

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *