In the only bowl game featuring a pair of conference champions, the Troy Trojans were able to defeat the UTSA Roadrunners 18-12 in the 2022 Cure Bowl. The Trojans scored 18 unanswered points after trailing 12-0 late in the first half. UTSA outgained Troy in yardage 345 to 153, but the Trojans forced five turnovers that resulted in 15 points. The Roadrunners could not get out of their own way committing nine penalties to just two for Troy. UTSA also failed on two trips to the red zone in the second half coming away with zero points. With the win, it is the first time Troy has won 12 games in a season since joining the FBS in 2001. The Roadrunners are still looking for their first-ever bowl victory as a program with the loss. Troy ends their season at 12-2 and UTSA at 11-3.
Troy Wins the 2022 Cure Bowl
Roadrunners Control Early
Not a lot went right for the Troy Trojans early in the 2022 Cure Bowl. Neither team found much success in the first quarter with three combined punts, a Trojan fumble, and a safety to give the Roadrunners a 2-0 advantage at the end of the quarter. The safety occurred with Troy on its own seven yard line on a third down with 3:58 left in the first quarter. Troy quarterback Gunnar Watson was looking to the sideline when the snap by Jake Andrews went past Watson and through the back of the endzone.
On the following possession for UTSA, the Roadrunners went on a 15-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a two-yard touchdown pass by Frank Harris to Zakhari Franklin with 12:30 in the second to go up 9-0. Harris on the day was 23 of 42 for 194 yards and one touchdown. It was not the typical day for the C-USA MVP, who has announced he will return for a seventh season of college football. The score was one of seven catches for Franklin, but he only totaled 37 yards. UTSA remained in control with the Troy offense continuing to struggle with 6:21 until halftime after Jared Sackett connected on a 42-yard field goal. The kick put the Roadrunners up 12-0.
18 Unanswered Points
Troy finally got some offense going on a drive that was helped by UTSA penalties and a questionable catch by the defense. With 1:45 remaining until the break, Watson attempted a pass that was intercepted and then fumbled by Clifford Chattman. That was not the original call on the field though. It did not appear Chattman had held on long enough for it to be an interception, but after a review, the officials reversed the call. The fumble gave the ball back to the Trojans. Three plays later following a pass interference call on Chattman, Troy’s Kimani Vidal scored a two-yard touchdown. That made the score 12-7 in favor of UTSA. Then the turnover streak began.
The next four possessions for UTSA all resulted in turnovers. It started before halftime when Troy’s Richard Jibunor intercepted Harris to set the Trojans up in good field position. Fortunately for UTSA, Watson threw an interception four plays later as both teams headed in for halftime. Jibunor made another play on Harris to start the third when he stripped the ball from his hand and recovered the fumble. Troy was unable to capitalize on that fumble, and on the following turnover as well. Roadrunner receiver Oscar Cardenas committed a fumble that was recovered by Keyshawn Swanson. Three plays later it was another punt for Mike Rivers and the Trojans.
UTSA looked to be going in for a score that could have put the game away when Harris was intercepted by KJ Robertson with 5:11 in the third. Robertson returned the ball to the Roadrunners’ 22, and five plays later Watson connected with RaJae’ Johnson for a 12-yard touchdown. Troy converted a two-point attempt when Watson found Clayton Ollendieck to go up 15-12 with 2:43 left in the third quarter. Watson on the day was 13-23 for 113 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Troy added to the lead with a 27-yard field goal by Brooks Buce with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Trojans hold on
Up by six points, it was time for the Roadrunners to do something if they wanted to win the 2022 Cure Bowl. They proceeded to move 72 yards in eight plays and found themselves inside the Troy five. On second and goal Harris found a wide-open Chris Carpenter in the back of the endzone but he was unable to catch the ball. On third and fourth downs Harris tried to find his top target in Franklin, but the Troy defense held them out. Troy was forced to punt on the following drive but chewed up 4:20 off the clock. That left UTSA with 2:41 to make a play.
They would once again turn the ball over on downs when Harris could not connect with Franklin again. This time on a deep throw down the field that was broken up by Reddy Steward with 1:32 remaining. Troy would go on to run out the clock for the win.
2022 Cure Bowl Standouts
For Troy, it was all about the defense and the five takeaways. As he did all season, Carlton Martial led the team in tackles with 14. He ends his college football career as the FBS all-time leader in tackles and will head to the Senior Bowl in Mobile to showcase his talents to NFL scouts. The MVP of the game though goes to linebacker Robertson. He had nine tackles in the game and the game-changing interception that led to Troy taking the lead.
For UTSA the defensive line had its best game of the season. Coming into the contest the defense only sacked the quarterback 19 times. However, they got to Watson six times on Friday with Trey Moore accumulating two sacks. Offensively it was another stellar performance by freshman running back Kevorian Barnes with 138 yards on the day.