9-0 football continues hot streak, moves up in polls


Sincere McCormick makes a jump cut past a defender during the game against UTEP on Saturday night. McCormick ran for 169 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the win, shredding a UTEP run defense that had played very well up to that point. Jamal Cooley/UTSA Athletics

Julia Maenius, Assistant Sports Editor

The UTSA Roadrunners (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) added a ninth tally in the win column Saturday night, Nov. 6, in El Paso. Taking on the UTEP Miners (6-3, 3-2 C-USA) in the Sun Bowl, UTSA’s 44-23 win boosted the team’s Associated Press Top 25 ranking to No. 15 and the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll to No. 16.

The ‘Runners took no time adjusting to mountain time. A 75-yard rush from Sincere McCormick on the second play of the opening drive gave UTSA a 7-0 advantage. A quick three and out for the Miners sent UTSA on a stretch of short yardage gains to set place kicker Hunter Duplessis up on the Miners 33 for a 51-yard field goal (10-0). 

A pass breakup from safety Rashad Wisdom and a quarterback hurry from lineman Brandon Matterson forced the Miners to take the punt option on their own 32. The McCormick and Zakhari Franklin duo moved the offense into UTEP territory but they were unable to convert on third and 14, so Duplessis lined up for a 41-yard kick, giving the ‘Runners a 13-0 lead. 

A 35-yard pass from UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison to Tyrin Smith put the Miners on the board late in the first quarter, 13-6. A 54-yard punt from Lucas Dean pinned the Miners to a touchback penalty, giving the ‘Runners another run at the end zone before the close of the first quarter. Unable to reach the line, Duplessis lined up for his third kick of the quarter, sending the ball through the pipes for a 16-6 advantage.

A missed Miners field goal at the start of the second set the ‘Runners up for the second touchdown of the game. A 48-yard pass to De’Corian Clark put UTSA on the UTEP 10. McCormick pushed the line to goal and inches for quarterback Frank Harris to rush into the zone, 23-6.

A pass breakup from safety Antonio Parks forced the Miners to punt on the following possession, giving Harris the opportunity to land a 32-yard pass to Franklin to set up the offense on the UTSA 38. Pushing downfield, Harris dropped back into the pocket and completed a seven-yard pass in the end zone to Franklin increasing the ‘Runners’ lead, 30-6.

The Miners inched downfield in the final drive of the first half. Unable to convert, UTEP’s Gavin Baechle lined up for a 50-yard kick to send the game into halftime with UTEP trailing by 21 (30-9).

A pass breakup by cornerback Ken Robinson on the four-yard line turned the ball back to UTSA at the start of the third quarter. Three over-20-yard gains pushed the line to the UTEP 7-yard line. A second look to Franklin in the end zone boosted the ‘Runners’ lead 37-9. 

The Miners used four short yardage gains to set their offense on the UTSA 42. Hardison dropped into the pocket and found Smith in the end zone for a second UTEP touchdown. A completed extra point gave UTEP a 21-point gap to close in the fourth, 37-16.

The ‘Runners solidified their win on the first drive of the final quarter. A 20 and 25-yard gain on the ground from Harris put the offense on the UTEP 49. Running back B.J. Daniels took to the gridiron to pin the UTEP defense on their own 4 in two short rush gains, giving Harris the opening for a three-yard rushing touchdown. A clear kick from Duplessis gave UTSA their final offensive mark at 44-16.

The Miners had one final drive left in them. After two UTSA penalties, moving the Miners to set up on the ‘Runners’ 37. A completed pass to Smith gave UTEP a 14-yard gain, setting up on the UTSA 10. Hardison found Justin Garrett in the end zone to give the Miners the last score of the game, 44-23.

With the ‘Runners in possession with 6:38 remaining, the offense moved the ball down the field with short carries, a 16-yard reception from wide receiver Joshua Cepheus and a 14-yard carry from Daniels. On the UTEP 14, quarterback Josh Adkins took a knee to close the game with the ‘Runners ahead by 21 (44-23).

This road win comes after an idle week for the ‘Runners and the announcement of the 10-year 28-million-dollar contract signed by head coach Jeff Traylor earlier in the week. UTSA remains the only undefeated team in Conference USA and just one of four undefeated teams at the FBS level going into Week 10. 

The ‘Runners will be returning to their home field after three weeks to host the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (1-8, 0-5 C-USA) in the Alamodome Saturday, Nov. 13. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. The is advertised as an “Orange Out” with all in attendance encouraged to wear the color orange in support of the ‘Runners. The game can be viewed on ESPN+.