A Crawl to Victory
Evans Okotcha won this game for UTSA. Not with his 104 rushing yards. Not with his excellent 6.5 yards per rush average. Not with his pass protection. Hell, the ball wasn’t even in play when he won this game. After a five yard scamper to get UTSA into field goal range, the senior running back went down in bounds with an apparent injury. North Texas had already used their last timeout on the play before and there was just over a minute left on the clock. A player that didn’t want to win would have laid on the floor and waited for medical treatment. A player that valued his own health and comfort over the urgency of a victory would have let the officials whistle the play dead, providing North Texas with crucial additional seconds. Instead, Okotcha frantically crawled off the turf of Apogee Stadium on his hands and knees, preventing a time stoppage due to medical treatment. Coach Coker was able to let the play clock tick down to :01 before calling a timeout. Sean Ianno would miss the 46 yard field goal but the Roadrunner drive was still successful. UTSA was able to take four minutes and 26 seconds off the clock, leaving UNT with too little time to find the end zone, as Derek Thompson was forced to throw up a prayer of a pass that the younger Okotcha brother would gobble up to secure the victory.
I think this incredibly aware move from Evans works as an analogy for this entire season. It wasn’t a 50 yard dash to the end zone from Okotcha that secured this win, just like it wasn’t superior size or speed that helped put UTSA in the hunt for the Conference USA championship game in the program’s third season of existence. Instead, it was attention to detail and selfless sacrifice that made Evans crawl off that freezing turf, just like it has been belief in self and in team that has lead this group of young men to defeat Conference USA programs that have been playing football for over a hundred years. Today Coach Coker held back tears to talk about his “impossible dream” of this young program winning a conference title. To an outsider, it does seem like an impossible dream for this collection of slightly-recruited athletes to bring home some hardware in December. I disagree. When you see a player do something as selfless as Evans’ crawl off of the Apogee turf it makes you a believer. Evans’ teammates see it. It makes them believers. A team of believers is a tough one to beat.
In any direction you look, it is clear that destiny has favored the Roadrunners. After taking care of business against Louisiana Tech, this band of believers needs just one more miracle– a Tulane upset of first-place Rice. Once that happens, UTSA will etch in stone yet another impressive fable in their short, short history with a nationally-televised match against either ECU or Marshall in the Conference USA conference championship game. If destiny favors the Roadrunners yet again, I have just one message for the eastern half of the conference– Come and Take It.
A UTSA alumnus that has been cast away to Austin, Jared enjoys live music and a craft beer. He thinks four verts is the best play in football but loves a QB sneak on fourth and inches. Twitter