UTSA kicks off Traylor era in spectacular fashion

Quarterback+Frank+Harris+runs+through+Texas+State+defenders+on+his+way+to+the+end+zone+during+the+first+quarter+of+UTSA%27s+51-48+win.+

Ethan Gullett

Quarterback Frank Harris runs through Texas State defenders on his way to the end zone during the first quarter of UTSA's 51-48 win.

Max Aguirre, Sports Editor

The 2020 edition of the I-35 Showdown did not disappoint. A double-overtime ending to the first game of the Traylor era saw the Roadrunners overcome a fierce Texas State University Bobcat comeback.

The ‘Runners dominated the first half primarily by rushing right into the Bobcat defense. After a 66-yard screen pass by the Bobcats opened up the scoring, UTSA responded with a 58-yard rush by running back Sincere McCormick, which was followed by a 17-yard touchdown run from quarterback Frank Harris. The two teams stayed tied at seven for the remainder of the first quarter, as both defenses aggressively locked down the opposing offenses. 

UTSA took their first possession of the second quarter and turned it into a field goal, making the score 10-7. The Bobcat defense started to give way soon after that possession. The ‘Runner rushing attack appeared to start to wear down the Bobcats; each run looked slightly more effective than the last. Aided by 222 rushing yards in the first half and some timely throws by quarterback Frank Harris, the ‘Runners dominated the scoreboard before halftime. 

UTSA’s defense continued to contain the Texas State offense through the second quarter, allowing only four rushing yards and 137 passing yards, half of those passing yards coming on the 66-yard screen pass. The ‘Runners led the game 24-7 at the half. 

The Bobcats responded quickly after halftime, stopping the ‘Runners’ first possession and scoring in five plays on their first drive of the third quarter. A 31-yard catch-and-run pass put the Bobcats back in the game and made the score 24-14. 

The ‘Runners’ offense quickly shoved them back down on their next possession. McCormick and Harris put together another electrifying drive that included McCormick’s second run of 58 yards and Harris’s third rushing touchdown. 

Late in the third quarter, with the ‘Runners up 31-14, the Bobcats returned a punt for a touchdown, but the play was called back near midfield after a blindside block call was enforced against Texas State. The Bobcats proceeded to march down the field and regain the touchdown that had been called back on a 12-yard scramble by running back Calvin Hill, making the score 31-21 as the teams headed into the fourth quarter. 

The Bobcats opened up the final quarter of play with a lengthy 11-play drive that kept UTSA’s defense on the field for an extended amount of time. Missed tackles toward the end of the drive allowed Texas State to run effectively, something they had been unable to do in the first half, and they turned it into their third touchdown since halftime. 

The ‘Runners got the ball for the first time in the fourth quarter with a slim 31-28 lead. Harris and the offense wasted no time; the quarterback threw a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Brennon Dingle, who made a remarkable contested catch that put them at the Bobcat 21 yard line. The offense was unable to capitalize, however, and had to settle for a field goal.

With the score at 34-28, the Bobcats went on yet another long drive. It culminated in a fourth down and six on UTSA’s 19 yard line. With the ‘Runners’ lead on the line, safety Rashad Wisdom made the play of the game by intercepting a tipped pass from Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt and running 81 yards for what appeared to be a game-sealing pick six. 

The Bobcats, however, did not seem to think it was a game ender. They scored a quick touchdown on their next possession and then halted UTSA’s next offensive drive, forcing them to punt. What followed was a shocking 91-yard Texas State punt return, technically their second of the game, which tied the game at 41. Texas State’s kicker Alan Orona was presented with an opportunity to win the game with the extra point but failed to capitalize. The teams then proceeded to take a game that looked like a blowout at halftime into overtime. 

Both teams scored in dramatic fashion in the first overtime, but another missed short-distance field goal by Orona doomed the Bobcats. With the game tied at 48, the ‘Runners put their faith in kicker Hunter Duplessis. Duplessis, who has proven himself to be a very reliable kicker, did not disappoint, hitting the game-winning field goal and giving UTSA a 51-48 win.