HOUSTON — Houston quarterback Clayton Tune leaped over a defender to score on a 13-yard run and the 24th-ranked Cougars escaped with 37-35 victory over UTSA in three overtimes Saturday.
Per NCAA rules for a third overtime, Tune’s winning run was a 2-point conversion. The Roadrunners were unable to match the score as their final pass floated out of bounds.
Houston rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half at the Alamodome to snap UTSA’s 10-game home winning streak.
After Tune scored on a 1-yard run and threw for the 2-point conversion in the second overtime, Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris matched the output by running in the conversion after tossing a touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark.
Houston dominated the final quarter, maintaining possession for 10 minutes, 30 seconds in driving 77 yards on 18 plays. The drive ended with Bubba Baxa kicking a 35-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining for a 24-21 lead.
UTSA matched the feat in far less time, driving 55 yards in 23 seconds for a 37-yard field goal by Jared Sackett to force overtime.
Baxa and Sackett kicked matching field goals in the first overtime.
Harris completed 28 of 43 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 63 yards and a score.
Tune was 22 of 32 for 206 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 51 yards and a TD.
Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen expressed concerns over crowd noise being pumped into the stadium, which is forbidden by the NCAA and was vehemently denied by UTSA.
There was no need for artificial celebration as the Roadrunners put on a show for the 37,526 in attendance, the fifth-largest crowd in school history.
Houston and UTSA both averaged 30-plus points per game last season, but could not score in the opening quarter against the aggressive and physical play of the line and linebackers and a miscue.
The Cougars’ Nathaniel Dell returned a punt 74 yards for an apparent score midway through the second quarter, but it was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty. The ensuing drive ended in a fumble recovered by Roadrunners linebacker Dadrian Taylor after Tune was stripped while fleeing the pocket.
Both offenses broke through in the second quarter with a series of big plays.
Dell converted his next scoring opportunity, tapping his left foot inbounds before falling out of the end zone to complete an 11-yard touchdown from Tune a minute into the second quarter.
UTSA responded on its ensuing possession, driving 65 yards in four plays punctuated by Joshua Cephus’ 51-yard touchdown reception from Frank Harris.