A defensive struggle came down to a special teams play that made the difference Saturday night and the UTSA Roadrunners knocked off the Marshall Thundering Herd 9-7 in the final seconds in front of 20,148 fans at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Marshall (7-4, 4-3) took its first lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game, but UTSA (6-4, 3-4) had the game-winning answer with a field goal that propelled the Roadrunners into bowl eligibility.
The Herd’s offense got the ball first, but had to punt to the Roadrunners and UTSA turned it into a 16-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with a Jared Sackett 24-yard field goal to give the Roadrunners a 3-0 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
After several punts, the Marshall defense forced another UTSA stop, but the Roadrunners decided to fake it on fourth down. But the Herd was there to stop it and set its offense up at the UTSA 47-yard line.
However, Marshall squandered the opportunity and three plays later after driving the ball inside the UTSA 25-yard line, quarterback Chase Litton fumbled the snap and the Roadrunners’ Jim Phillistin recovered to set the UTSA offense up at its own 29-yard line.
And the Roadrunners turned the Herd’s mistake into points when Sackett connected on another 24-yard field go with just 7 seconds to go in the second quarter to extend the UTSA lead up to 6-0 heading into halftime.
After forcing a Roadrunners punt to begin the third quarter, disaster struck again for the Herd when Litton was intercepted by UTSA’s Austin Jupe to give the Roadrunners’ offense the ball at the Marshall 31-yard line.
But after getting the ball inside the Herd’s 10-yard line, the Roadrunners gave it right back when Tyrell Clay fumbled and Marshall’s Jaquan Yulee recovered at the Herd’s 4-yard line.
Both teams continued to be bogged down into the fourth quarter until the Herd was driving the ball into UTSA territory. But on fourth-and-10 at the Roadrunners’ 37-yard line, Marshall was forced into a turnover on downs.
But after a bad snap on a missed field goal, UTSA gave Marshall one last chance to finally put points on the board. And after an 8-play, 74-yard drive, the Herd finally got on the scoreboard in a big way when Litton found Hyleck Foster for a 20-yard touchdown to give Marshall a 7-6 lead with 1:31 remaining in the game.
The Roadrunners were far from done, however, and drove the ball inside the Marshall 25-yard line with seconds remaining to set up for a game-winning field goal. And with just 2 seconds remaining, Sackett connected on a 40-yard field goal to give UTSA the 9-7 win over the Herd.
Dalton Sturm finished 25 for 38 for 264 yards for the Roadrunners while Clay led UTSA on the ground with 15 carries for 35 yards. Kerry Thomas Jr. led all UTSA receivers with 10 receptions for 106 yards and La’Kei Bass led the Roadrunners defensively with seven total tackles.
Litton finished 16 for 23 for 189 yards and one touchdown with one interception for Marshall while Keion Davis led the Herd on the ground with 12 carries for 41 yards. Obi Obialo led an injured Herd receiving unit with six receptions for 80 yards in the absence of its two leading receivers in Tyre Brady and Marcel Williams.
Malik Gant led Marshall defensively with 16 total tackles while C.J. Reavis chipped in 15 total tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. With the win, UTSA is now bowl eligible for the second straight season.
And with the loss, Marshall has now lost three out of its last four games overall and now prepares for senior day in Huntington to close out the regular season.
The Herd closes out its 2017 regular season Nov. 25 at home against Southern Miss. UTSA closes out its regular season Nov. 25 at Louisiana Tech.