Ranked ‘Runners! UTSA blows out Rice 45-0 on Homecoming, nationally ranked for first time in program history


Corey Mayfield Jr. returns an interception for a touchdown early in the second half during the game against Rice on Saturday night. Mayfield Jr’s pick six handed the ‘Runners a 38-0 advantage and put the game firmly out of reach. The pick six was UTSA’s second of the game and was an exclamation point on a dominant effort where they held the Rice offense to 102 yards of total offense. Ellyson Ortega/The Paisano

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

The No. 24 UTSA Roadrunners (7-0, C-USA 3-0) took on the Rice Owls (2-4, C-USA 1-1) on Saturday night for homecoming. With UTSA on the cusp of entering the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll after numerous teams lost earlier in the day, the ‘Runners did not let the chance go to waste, turning in their most complete performance of the season in a 45-0 rout. A week after being called on to throw for 349 yards and six passing touchdowns in a shootout victory, quarterback Frank Harris did not need to do nearly as much, throwing for just 125 yards and a pair of scores as UTSA seized momentum early and were content to control the game from there. Defensively the ‘Runners were stifling, limiting the Owls to just 102 yards of total offense and delivering their second shutout of the year.

Picking up right where they left off the week prior, UTSA went right down the field on their opening drive and Harris capped things off with an option keeper from seven yards out, just beating a defender to the pylon for a 7-0 lead. The defense forced a quick three-and-out and gave the ball right back to the offense. The offense drove down the field again, but this time they stalled out in the red zone and had to settle for a 30-yard Hunter Duplessis field goal to go up 10-0. Another three-and-out forced by the UTSA defense was slightly undercut by a holding penalty on the ensuing punt that pushed UTSA all the way back to their own six yard line. It did not matter, though, as Sincere McCormick took the first handoff of the drive and burst through a hole on the right side of the line for 81 yards before being pushed out on the Rice 13. Two plays later, B.J. Daniels ran it up the middle and scored from 11 yards out.

With the game rapidly spiraling out of control, Rice felt the pressure to go for it on fourth and one from their own 40. As the lone man between Rice quarterback Jake Constantine and his intended receiver, Clarence Hicks leaped into the air and tipped the ball directly into the arms of Trevor Harmanson, who sprinted 40 yards into the end zone for a pick six, giving UTSA a commanding 24-0 lead. The next two drives for each team ended in three-and-outs. Rice then drove across midfield, but a sack by Charles Wiley on third and long brought an end to the drive and led to another Rice punt. With just over two minutes left in the half, the offense quickly moved the ball down the field and Harris found Joshua Cephus on a quick out route for a touchdown and a 31-0 halftime lead.

Coming out of halftime, the Rice offense appeared to have figured something out as they approached midfield. The UTSA defense stiffened, though, and on third and long, backup Rice quarterback Luke McCaffery committed a crucial error. He floated a ball out toward the sideline to a curl route, but Corey Mayfield Jr. jumped the route, picked it off in stride and walked into the end zone for UTSA’s second defensive touchdown of the game. As the UTSA defense continued to suffocate the Rice offense midway through the third, the UTSA offense strung together a nice drive. Daniels handled the majority of the action on the drive, carrying the ball down the field on the back of tough, physical, hard-nosed football. Harris then finished off the drive with his second touchdown pass of the game to Cephus on a picture-perfect fade pass to the back of the end zone. This brought the score to 45-0 and spelled the end of the night for the starters on offense. 

In the fourth quarter, the defense starters took a seat on the bench and it was up to the second stringers to secure the shutout. They answered the call, forcing Rice to go three-and-out on all three of their offensive possessions in the fourth. This secured UTSA’s second shutout of the season, and second ever in program history. Offensively the ‘Runners were keyed by an impressive effort on the ground as they racked up 261 yards. McCormick led the way with 117 yards on just 13 carries, Daniels chipped in 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and Harris utilized his legs to contribute 47 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, UTSA recorded three sacks and 10 tackles for loss, as they were swarming into the backfield all night long. 

UTSA’s efforts extended a program-best 7-0 start to the season. In addition, the following morning, the ‘Runners were ranked in both the AP Top 25 and the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time in program history. The ‘Runners checked in at No. 24 in the AP poll and No. 25 in the USA Today poll. The ‘Runners will have a tough task ahead of them next week when they go on the road to Ruston, LA, to take on Louisiana Tech (2-4, C-USA 1-1). Kickoff is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. The game will be available to stream via Stadium.