UTSA defeats Western Kentucky in conference championship rematch 31-28

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

In a rematch of last year’s Conference USA championship, UTSA (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) hosted Western Kentucky University (3-3, 1-1 C-USA) at the Alamodome. Both teams came off impressive conference wins. However, the Roadrunners proved too much for the Hilltoppers, winning 31 to 28.

The Roadrunners wasted no time getting on the scoreboard first, as they drove down for a touchdown on their first drive of the game. The drive took 65-yards and concluded with a 12-yard touchdown run from quarterback Frank Harris. Western Kentucky evened the score on their first drive, featuring a 38-yard pass from Austin Reed to Malachi Corley. Reed ran the ball from the 2-yard line for the score. Western Kentucky scored again in the second quarter, this time an 18-yard pass from Reed to Daewood Davis to put the Hilltoppers up 14-7. UTSA responded mid-second quarter with an 11-play drive concluding with a 3-yard touchdown run from Brenden Brady to tie the game. The ‘Runners closed the half with a 49-yard field goal from Jared Sackett to take a 17-14 lead.

UTSA started the second half much like the first, scoring a touchdown on their first possession. The drive featured a 15-yard pass from Harris to Joshua Cephus, followed by an 11-yard pass to Brady. Chris Carpenter rushed for 8-yards to the endzone, where he lost control of the ball but was recovered by Cephus for the touchdown, extending the Roadrunner lead to 24-14. The first two turnovers of the game came in the third quarter, where Western Kentucky went for a 4th & 14 and 4th & 9 on back-to-back drives and was unable to convert. The ‘Runners took over on their 42-yard line, and ultimately got a turnover of their own after not converting a 4th & 1 on the 6-yard line. Western Kentucky took advantage of UTSA’s turnover and scored a touchdown off an 18-yard pass from Reed to Michael Mathison to make it a one-score game. UTSA’s next drive consisted of two throws from Harris. The first was a 31-yard pass to Zakhari Franklin and then a 12-yard touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark. Kye Robichaux scored for the Hilltoppers off a 33-yard touchdown run to make the score 31-28. After a 10-yard gain, Brady fumbled the football and was recovered by Western Kentucky. In their final effort, the Hilltoppers went for it on 4th & 7. UTSA’s Rashad Wisdom broke up the pass, clinching the 31 to 28 win.

Western Kentucky was one of UTSA’s toughest opponents remaining on the schedule as they were predicted to finish third in C-USA. UTSA is now 2-0 in conference play. The Roadrunners were also challenged to win in a different way. The Hilltoppers forced UTSA to run the ball, instead of dominating the passing game with their trio of receivers in Franklin, Cephus and Clark. The ‘Runners rushed for a season-high 213 yards.  

“We were just taking what the defense gave us,” Harris said after the game. No receiver for the ‘Runners had over 100 yards, but three different rushers carrying over 60 yards made up for it.

Harris threw for 273 yards with a touchdown, while Reed threw for 373 and 2 touchdowns for the Hilltoppers. Franklin led the Roadrunners in receiving yards with 95, while Clark had 62-yards and a touchdown, his seventh of the season, tying his total from last year. Wisdom led the defense with 10 tackles.  

UTSA will now have a short week before traveling to Miami, Fl, to face Florida International University at 7:00 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 14.