Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA suffers second-straight season opening loss to Houston

Harris throws three interceptions in loss to Cougars
Stephen Saenz

HOUSTON – UTSA football falls in its first game in the American Atheltic Conference, losing 17-14 against Houston on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. Sophomore running back Kevorian Barnes rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown in the season-opening loss.

Seventh year quarterback Frank Harris had three-straight interceptions in the third quarter, flipping the momentum to the home team. Barnes, however, isn’t worried about the veteran.

“I told Frank he’s great,” Barnes said. “That’s part of the game. I love him, and him throwing those picks doesn’t make me love him any less. He’s still a great quarterback, I think he’s the best quarterback in the nation still. I’m going to ride with my guy.”

The first half was a defensive battle, ending with Houston taking a 10-7 halftime lead. The Cougars scored the game’s first points off an 8-yard touchdown pass from junior transfer quarterback Donovan Smith to sophomore Joseph Manjack IV. Houston worked a short field thanks to a 48-yard punt return from senior Malik Fleming to set up the Houston offense on UTSA’s 22-yard line.

The Roadrunners responded with a touchdown of their own on their next drive. Harris passed for 48 yards on the 8-play, 80-yard drive, leading to a 20-yard rush up the left sideline from Freshman David Amador II. Barnes finished the job with a 4-yard rush up the middle into the end zone.

“I’m a normal human just like everyone else, so I was nervous,” Barnes said after scoring the Roadrunners first touchdown of the season. “Once the touchdown came, it all went away.”

Unfortunately for UTSA, the Cougars got the final first-half points from a 31-yard field goal from junior Jack Martin as time expired in the second quarter.

The ‘Runners offensive struggles continued in the second half. Harris threw three interceptions on the first three drives of the third quarter, forcing the UTSA defense to keep the game in balance.

Houston capitalized after snagging its third-straight interception with a touchdown to make the game a two-score lead. Smith and Manjack IV connected for a 16-yard pickup to place the Cougars on the 6-yard line. Smith punched in the touchdown with a 6-yard pass to sophomore receiver Matthew Golden in the right corner of the endzone.

The Roadrunners scored their second touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Harris had three 20-yard passes on the 15-play drive, including a 20-yard pass up the middle to senior receiver Joshua Cephus. UTSA trailed by three points with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Stephen Saenz

The UTSA defense could not force Houston to a punt, ultimately draining the clock and ending the game.

Despite the second-straight season-opening loss coming from Houston, Traylor was impressed with his teams’ defense.

“They played incredible,” Traylor said of his defense. “Our kids played their tails off. You just can’t have three turnovers and eight penalties.”

Harris’ lack of an offseason showed in his first game of his seventh season. The quarterback finished with 209 yards and a touchdown, though completed just 18 of his 36 passes along with the three picks. Also in his first game without receiver Zakhari Franklin who transferred to Ole Miss and offensive coordinator Will Stein who is now with Oregon, Harris’ rust showed in the 17-14 loss.

“He’ll play his way back in,” Traylor said after Saturday’s game. “He’s a ton of reps behind. He got about 80 snaps tonight. He’ll get better because of it, he’ll play his way back into shape.”

The Roadrunners, now falling 0-1 for the second consecutive season, are not in unfamiliar territory. UTSA will now host its next two games, the next coming against Texas State, who defeated Baylor 42-31 on Saturday. 

“We played a really good team and we played really well,” Traylor said. “In many aspects, we played much better than last year.”

UTSA will play Texas State in their home opener. The Roadrunners will kickoff against the Bobcats at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, at the Alamodome.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lawhorn
Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor
Luke (he/him) is an English major at UTSA and is set to graduate in the Spring of 2024. This is his fifth semester at The Paisano and his fourth as the Sports Editor. Along with covering UTSA sports and events, Luke also covers high school sports and local events for the San Antonio Express-News and covers the San Antonio Spurs for The Paisano. He has a huge passion for covering sports and giving his opinion on them. Outside of writing and talking about sports, Luke's hobbies include playing basketball, watching movies and all things outdoors.
Stephen Saenz
Stephen Saenz, Photographer

Stephen is a first-year mechanical engineering major with a minor in business administration. Stephen is from McAllen, TX, but has lived in San Antonio for about 9 years now. This is his first-year shooting for The Paisano, however, Stephen has loved film and photography since he was around 10-11 years old and has actively been pursuing freelance photography for about a year now. While photograph is not his major, Stephen is currently focused on growing his name in the industry by focusing on his photography business, however, if it’s not editing or taking photos, he is either listening to music, watching movies, in a coffee shop or finding a good spot to eat. Stephen is a part of other organizations like Engineers Without Borders and works for a non-profit in San Antonio called Kinetic Kids.

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