SAN ANTONIO — Third quarters have not been kind to McNeese State this season, and Saturday against Texas-San Antonio was no different.
The Roadrunners converted all six of their third downs in the period — leading to a 14-point quarter — then held off a late McNeese rally for a 31-24 victory in front of 25,784 at the Alamodome.
“We just didn’t get the job done in the third quarter,” McNeese coach Matt Viator said. “But give UTSA credit. They came out after the half and scored on their first three possessions and converted on their third downs, which is what you have to do. They made some really good plays tonight. Give them credit.”
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 6-4, while UTSA improved to 6-4 and snaps a four-game losing streak.
McNeese will close out the regular season Saturday at home against Lamar.
McNeese quarterback Cody Stroud threw for a career-high 346 yards and two touchdowns, completing 34 of 46 passes — also career highs. He became the 11th player in school history to surpass the 4,000 career total offensive yards gained mark.
Former Central standout Wes Briscoe and Diontae Spencer caught a team-high six passes each. Briscoe had 99 yards and a touchdown — his third straight game with a score.
McNeese gained just 93 yards on the ground.
UTSA quarterback Eric Soza completed 24 of 37 passes for 262 yards with two touchdowns as 12 Roadrunners had at least one reception.
The Cowboys took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards on 10 plays, capped by a 12-yard pass from Stroud to Briscoe to put McNeese up 7-0 just five minutes into the game.
McNeese had a chance to go up more as it drove to the UTSA 11-yard line early in the second quarter. But a personal foul followed by a sack forced the Cowboys into a 36-yard field goal attempt, which kicker and former Denham Springs standout Josh Lewis missed wide right.
UTSA tied the game after a 23-yard pass from Soza to Evans Okotcha with 2:47 to play.
The Cowboys then drove from their own 6-yard line in 2:31 to set up another 36-yard field goal, which Lewis nailed to give McNeese a 10-7 lead at halftime.
UTSA went up 14-10 after a 12-play, 69-yard drive that took 6:09 off the clock, and the Cowboys missed a scoring opportunity as Stroud’s long pass to Darius Carey was dropped.
McNeese punted, and UTSA answered with a 7-play, 62-yard drive ending with a 9-yard run by Okotcha to put the Roadrunners up 21-10.
On McNeese’s next possession, Marcus Wiltz fumbled the ball away at the UTSA 30, and the Roadrunners turned that into another score and a 28-10 lead.
After a UTSA field goal to make it 31-10, the Cowboys got their second TD of the game when Stroud hit Dylan Long from 6yards out to cut the deficit to 31-17 with 6:17 to play. It was Long’s first touchdown of his career and just his second career reception.
McNeese added another score three minutes later when Wiltz ran it in from 3 yards out and then forced UTSA to punt the ball away with 10 seconds left.
Stroud’s final heave from the Cowboys’ 39-yard line fell short of a receiver as the clock ran out.