SAN ANTONIO - Senior quarterback Clayton Tune did his best John Elway impression Saturday inside the Alamodome, helicoptering across the goal line for a two-point conversion in triple overtime – for what turned out to be the game-winning score – as #24 Houston won its season opener against UT-San Antonio, 37-35.
"If there's a will there's a way," Tune said after the game. "I just wanted to win more than they did."
Tune finished his day 22-32 passing for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns, while adding a team-high 51 yards on the ground, plus a rushing score in the second overtime period.
"It just shows the resiliency and the character of the team. We know how good we are and how good we can be," the fifth-year QB said.
After falling behind 21-7 in the third quarter, Tune sparked the Coogs' rally on offense. His old roommate, former Pearland star Derek Parish, lit the fuse defensively.
Parish – who was playing the game with a cast on his right hand after having surgery on Thursday – lit up UTSA quarterback Frank Harris mid-throw, causing a wobbly pass that was intercepted by former Ridge Point standout Nelson Cesar.
UH tied the game at 21 on the very next play – a one-handed touchdown grab by Tomball Memorial alum Joseph Manjack IV, who was playing in his first game for his hometown Cougars after transferring from Southern California.
Ex-Pasadena Memorial kicker Bubba Baxa – a transfer from the University of Miami – kicked a 35-yard field goal with 23 seconds left in regulation to give UH a 24-21 lead, only for the Roadrunners to answer with two quick strikes downfield, setting up a game-tying field as time expired.
After trading field goals in the first overtime, Tune scored on the ground in the second OT, before UH was forced to go for two under the revised overtime rules adopted last year.
He floated a pass to wide receiver Nathaniel "Tank" Dell, who managed to tap one foot inbounds before going out.
After initially being ruled out-of-bounds, the video replayed showed Dell got his right foot in, giving the Cougars a 35-27 lead.
In the third overtime, the teams alternated two-point conversion attempts from the two-yard line, starting with Tune's scramble to the pylon, then leap over a would-be tackler.
UTSA was unable to answer on its ensuing attempt, securing the win for Houston.
Next up for the Cougars is a visit to Lubbock on September 10 to take on Texas Tech – a preview of what's to come when UH joins the Big 12 Conference in 2023.