Despite a late rally, UTSA holds of Middle Tennessee 45-30


Jacob Hernandez/UTSA Athletics

Frank Harris celebrates in the endzone after rushing for a touchdown. Harris had four touchdowns against Middle Tennessee, and a program record of 414 passing yards.

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

Starting the Conference USA schedule, UTSA (3-2, 1-0 C-USA) traveled to Murfreesboro for just the second time to play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (3-2, 0-1) on Friday, Sept. 30. Both teams came into the game with dominant wins in week four, including Middle Tennessee winning 45-31 over No. 25 Miami. UTSA came out early, scoring on the first two drives and putting the Blue Raiders to rest, despite a late rally.  

Middle Tennessee opened the game attempting to pick back up where they left off last week by going pass only. UTSA held the Blue Raiders to a 3 & out. UTSA had the best start they could have asked for, going 80-yards with just four plays. UTSA also attempted pass plays, with Frank Harris going 4/4 on the drive and ending with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Zakhari Franklin. On their next drive, the Roadrunners featured another deep pass from Harris, this time to Joshua Cephus for 36-yards. The drive ended with a 28-yard field goal from Jared Sackett, extending the lead to 10-0. Middle Tennessee opened the second quarter responding with a touchdown of their own. Quarterback Chase Cunningham had a 38-yard touchdown pass to Yusuf Ali to cut the score 10-7. The Roadrunners had another quick 5-play drive, concluding with a 28-yard touchdown pass back to Franklin. UTSA’s first two touchdown drives took less than two minutes. The Blue Raiders kept up with the fast-scoring pace, scoring on their third play of the drive with a 53-yard run by Darius Bracy. There were three total touchdowns scored in under three minutes. Harris threw another deep pass, this one to De’Corian Clark for 33-yards. On the same drive, running back Trelon Smith ran the ball in from the 2-yard line to put the ‘Runners back up 10, 24-14. Middle Tennessee looked as if they were going to score another touchdown, however, UTSA’s defense held them to a 31-yard field goal. Harris slowed down the fast pace, with the next drive taking four minutes. The ‘Runners went for it on 4th & 6, when Harris completed a 9-yard pass to Franklin. Harris later ran the ball in from the 5-yard line to extend the lead 31-17. Middle Tennessee kicked a 34-yard field goal to go into halftime 31-20. 

The Roadrunners came out of the half with the same aggression, going down the field and scoring a touchdown. This was a six-minute drive, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Harris. After a Blue Raider field goal, Middle Tennessee’s Jordan Branch intercepted Harris’ pass and returned it for a touchdown, trailing just 38-30. After the game got closer than UTSA was comfortable with, the Roadrunners pulled off a successful drive to end with a 25-yard touchdown run by Brendon Brady. The final score was 45-30.  

Harris finished the game with 414 passing yards, a new program record. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns with three interceptions. Clark led the team in receiving yards with 139, Franklin had 98 yards with two touchdowns, and Cephus had 90 yards. The trio of receivers is 1-3 in C-USA in receiving yards. Brady carried the ball for 98 yards and had one touchdown. Cunningham threw for 368 yards for the Blue Raiders, and Lane had 179 receiving yards.  

This was a significant statement win for the ‘Runners — starting conference play 1-0, along with finally having an overall winning record on the season. 

UTSA will be back in the Alamodome where they will face C-USA runner-up Western Kentucky University (3-1, 1-0 C-USA) Saturday, Oct. 8, at 5:00 p.m.