UTSA falls behind big before second half surge, but falls short 56-35 to No. 13 Oklahoma State

There was a time when Larry Coker schooled Mike Gundy on the finer points of offense.

This time Coker and his UTSA Roadrunners got a lesson on up-tempo offense from No. 13 Oklahoma State and new starting quarterback J.W. Walsh.

Walsh completed his first 10 passes and finished 24 of 27 for 326 yards with four touchdown throws as the Cowboys beat UTSA 56-35 on Saturday.

Coker, who won a national championship as coach at Miami for the 2001 season, was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State when Gundy was the Cowboys starting quarterback in 1986-89. Gundy is in his seventh year as coach at OSU, and Coker has been the only coach at UTSA in the three seasons since the school started its football program.

Despite the three-touchdown margin, Coker liked what he saw.

"We had 31 first downs, 369 passing yards, 504 total yards and 34 minutes total possession," Coker said. "If you had told me that before the game started, I would have slept a lot better last night. But they had great numbers, too."

The Roadrunners actually had one more first down than OSU, but two more turnovers. And, behind Walsh and some clean up duty from Clint Chelf for the Cowboys, UTSA gave up 518 passing yards.

It's the fourth start for the sophomore Walsh, his first this season after a quick relief performance for Chelf last week. With his speedy start against a Roadrunners team entering its third season of football, Walsh led the Cowboys (2-0) to touchdowns on five of six first-half possessions.

UTSA (1-1) tied the score 7-7 when Kenny Bias scored on a 6-yard run with 4:22 left in the first quarter. But Walsh scored from 4 yards out in the second quarter and the Cowboys led 35-7 at halftime.

"We were in position," Coker said. "We let it get away from us. But we fought on. We didn't give up."

Walsh left with six minutes left in the third and the Cowboys up 42-7.

UTSA's Eric Soza threw three TDs in the fourth quarter and finished 24 of 41 for 308 yards, with two interceptions.

One play following a 62-yard punt return by Kenny Harrison that put the ball on the Cowboys 19, Soza lofted a scoring pass to Bias that cut the deficit to three touchdowns with 12 minutes to go.

"In the third quarter I shouldn't have wholesale changed," Gundy said. "I should have mixed some of the twos (backups) and younger players in, and they didn't play well together. We did the same thing on the punt. We missed four or five tackles and they returned that punt on us."

The Cowboys went up 49-21 on Chelf's lone TD pass, a 33-yarder to Charlie Moore with 10 minutes remaining. Chelf finished 11-of-16 for 192 yards and a pair of TDs.

Soza and Bias connected again on a 67-yard passing TD that brought back UTSA to a 21-point deficit, but Chelf threw a 21-yard scoring pass to backup running back Desmond Roland as the Cowboys cracked the 50-point barrier with 5 ½ minutes to go.

The Roadrunners rallied from a two-touchdown deficit last week to win on the road at New Mexico. UTSA now is 13-11 all-time under former national champion coach Coker.

In Oklahoma State's opening victory against Mississippi State, Chelf started and Walsh relieved. Gundy had promised to use both of his quarterbacks in the opener, but Walsh was clearly more effective.

On Saturday, with Walsh running OSU's hurry-up offense, the Cowboys were all but unstoppable for UTSA. Walsh's 10-yard pass to Josh Stewart made it 21-7 three and a half minutes into the second quarter.

Walsh came up with his rushing TD less than seven minutes later and ended the first-half scoring four plays after the Cowboys' Ryan Simmons intercepted Soza and returned it 27 yards to the Roadrunners' 32. Running back Jeremy Smith got the call and ran in from a yard out with less than a minute before halftime.