The 2020 season hasn’t been very kind to the UTSA Roadrunners.
A schedule booked end to end with the expectation that a cancellation or postponement would happen sooner or later saw the team play eight straight games. Through the first four weeks, the constant turnover of players due to injury along the offensive and defensive fronts, in addition to the quarterback position, made it tough to find consistency. On a number of occasions, first-year head coach Jeff Traylor mentioned the mental and physical toll on his players.
As the team prepared for last week’s scheduled contest against Rice University, Coach Traylor spoke to the media in his weekly round-table discussion about giving the message to his guys about making this a “November to Remember,” as the team pushes for a postseason and conference title.
The month didn’t start the way anyone really wanted, with the game against Rice being postponed due to COVID-19 concerns within the program. The silver lining to the health scare, of course, is the bye week the postponement generated for the Roadrunners before the team returned to the Alamodome for the Homecoming game against UTEP.
Maybe it was the rest, or maybe it was an opponent in UTEP (3-3, 0-2) who hasn’t played too well this season, and in limited games, hasn’t tasted victory since September 19th. Whatever “it” was, the Roadrunners used it to climb back above .500 on the season with a dominant win over the Miners, 52-21.
The Roadrunners had the ball first, and used the opportunity to score three points off the leg of Hunter Duplessis from 49 yards out. Back-to-back rough plays on the next two drives resulted in two turnovers and allowed the Miners to lead the Roadrunners 7-3 after one, which easily could’ve been 10-3 had Gavin Baechle not missed from short distance, and then again on a second attempt created by a penalty.
In the final minutes of the first half, it looked like the game had turned into a shoot-out, with both teams scoring twice in the last four minutes.
When the third quarter started, however, the Miners couldn’t keep up with the Roadrunners any longer as the birds would score 14 unanswered points in the frame. UTSA quarterback Frank Harris couldn’t be stopped, totaling 312 yards through the air on 22 of 26 passing, for 3 TDs, and adding 43 more yards and two more scores on the ground.
Harris looked as accurate as the numbers show, and with his team leading by 24 points, was rewarded with an opportunity to rest for the final nine minutes.
With Sincere McCormick, the nation’s second leading rusher, out for the birth of his child, individuals stepped up as a unit to earn this victory. Junior running back Brenden Brady ran hard for 124 yards on 26 carries, and running-mate BJ Daniels added 81 more yards on 8 carries, including a score. Frank Harris’ three passing touchdowns were distributed among three different receivers in Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, Brennan Dingle, and Zakhari Franklin. Franklin himself had a monster day, catching 6 of his 8 targets for 118 yards and a touchdown, with a long of 45 yards.
As Coach Traylor preaches with his Triangle of Toughness, it takes execution in all three areas to win the game, and the defense definitely did their part this afternoon.
The Roadrunner defense forced four fumbles and didn’t allow a single point in the second half. Early in the game, the defense was put in some tough situations, most notably in the first quarter on the team’s third offensive drive when on the first snap sailed over Frank Harris’ head and UTEP recovered, setting up the Miner offense at the UTSA 7 yard-line. The Roadrunner defense stood strong, and survived the two missed Baechle field goal attempts. In the second half, UTSA’s defense only allowed 71 yards of total offense.
The season won’t get any easier as the team comes down the stretch, and it’s hard to set school records in total offense (602 today) every week. Victories are short celebrated in football, and tomorrow the Roadrunners (5-4, 3-2) will prepare to hit the road again, heading to Mississippi to take on the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss (2-6,1-3).
The Golden Eagles are coming off a loss today against Western Kentucky. For the Roadrunners, they’ll look to have Sincere back, but a team statement during the game today notes that they’ll be without defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix.
Next week’s game on the road will be televised on ESPN+.
Final Offensive Stats