Home 1st and 210 FINAL RECAP: The Triangle Traveled as UTSA Stuns Memphis 31-28

FINAL RECAP: The Triangle Traveled as UTSA Stuns Memphis 31-28


Going into it, everybody knew it was going to be a fight. Two undefeated programs, the UTSA Roadrunners and the Memphis Tigers were entering a gauntlet of four quarters of football. Two strong defenses, two electric offenses. Everyone also knew that someone had to win, and at the final bell it was UTSA with a 42-yard field goal from Hunter Duplessis that came out on top. The final score from the Liberty Bowl was 31-28.

It’s rather fitting that this game took place during the Anthony Joshua fight with Oleksandr Usyg for the heavyweight world title. The four quarters of action quickly felt like a 12-round battle.

A Rough First Quarter

It was Memphis that landed the first big shot on UTSA’s first offensive snap, recovering a Frank Harris fumble in the Roadrunner endzone for six points just over a minute into the game. The Tigers landed a few more heavy blows with touchdowns on their next two possessions, taking a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. UTSA had gained zero yards in the opening frame, spending most of the quarter with negative yards.

On the radio coverage of the game, Andy Everett, the voice of the Roadrunners, turned to Mike Tyson’s famous quote to set the stage for the UTSA’s new challenge – “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

The Turning Point

UTSA’s plan was quickly apparent. They turned to their bread and butter, the ground game, and found immediate success. On their first possession of the second quarter, the Roadrunners went 87 yards in 12 plays to score their first points of the game. UTSA’s defense forced the Tigers to three consecutive three-and-outs in the second frame as the Roadrunner offense started to piece things together.

From that point, the comeback was seemingly written. UTSA put up 399 yards of offense in three quarters. They played clean down the stretch where Memphis didn’t. In the end, the Tigers passed UTSA in penalties and penalty yards, something that had plagued the Roadrunners in the first half.

The Greatest Comeback in Program History

The second half was the embodiment of UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor’s “Triangle of Toughness” philosophy. UTSA’s offense scored in the third and protected the ball in the 4th. The defense stopped Memphis, played clean, and forced turnovers to give the offense more opportunities. In the end, it was special teams that sealed the game.

As the underdog Usyg pulled off the upset over Joshua, the Roadrunners overcame the odds against the Tigers. The loss ended Memphis’ 17-game home winning streak that began in 2018. When UTSA got hit in the mouth – and they got hit hard – their plan was to go back to the basics. We’ll find out in the coming days what Traylor said to his team at the half to spark the comeback, but we do know that they’ll have 24 hours to enjoy this victory, come back to San Antonio, and prepare for UNLV inside the Alamodome.

Game Notes:

  • Sincere McCormick had a really strong game, running the ball 42 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The 42 carries break McCormick’s previous school record of 37. His 184 yards mark the 13th time in his career that he’s topped the century mark. It was the second time that McCormick has scored three times in a game. He last accomplished the feat against Louisiana Tech last season. It is his second multi-touchdown game of 2021.
  • The 21-point deficit makes UTSA’s comeback the largest comeback in program history.
  • Zakhari Franklin has caught a touchdown in each of the four games this season. The school record for touchdown receptions in a season is eight, currently held by Kerry Thomas Jr. set in 2016.

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.


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