The Houston offense finally started to show life late in the 3rd quarter before scoring on the first play of the fourth. When UTSA received the ball on the ensuing kickoff, now up by just seven, the Roadrunners started to mount a drive.
But on 2nd and 10 from the 50-yard line, Derek Parish got a good push off the right side and put his giant Hamburger Helper mitt to good use, deflecting the pass that led to a game-changing interception.
The mitt was necessary after Parish “broke a small bone in his hand in warmups (Tuesday), pass rushing on a (tackling) bag” earlier in the week, according to Dana Holgorsen. The deflection allowed Nelson Ceaser to pick off the throw and return it 32 yards to the UTSA 20. UH was now in business.
In this situation, you have to take a shot. In the red zone with a defense on their heels, you need a play caller with a killer instinct because the ball needs to go to the end zone on the first play. I wasn’t expecting it because of how conservative the play calling had been all night.
But I’ll be damned if they did not do precisely that. Dana and OC Shannon Dawson had a moment of clarity and decided to put the game in Tune’s hands. They let him do what he has been training to do for five years at UH: throw touchdowns in big-time moments.
Joseph Manjack lined up to the left in a stacked formation, which is a great red zone concept, and the UTSA defense was set up ideally for him. The 6’3″ Manjack could get inside the 5’11” cornerback, and the only thing left was a good throw and catch. Tune delivered a great throw, and Manjack made an even better catch: one hand, no gloves.
Tune put the ball where only a receiver the size of Manjack could catch it, and the USC transfer pulled it in with one hand before securing it in the back of the endzone for the game-tying TD and the play of the game.
It was a perfect combination of a great play call, the perfect defensive mismatch, and fantastic execution between QB and receiver. Plus, it’s the best way to respond after a big turnover.
You always go for the kill shot.
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