UTSA quarterback Frank Harris passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another, but Clayton Tune threw for 206 yards and three TDs and scored on an 8-yard two-point conversion in the third overtime to lift No. 24 Houston to a 37-35 victory on Saturday in front of 37,526 fans at the Alamodome.
The Roadrunners built a 21-7 lead that lasted into the fourth quarter, but the Cougars rallied to tie things up with 12:26 left to play. Houston then took a 24-21 lead in the final minute after a Bubba Baxa 35-yard field goal.
Harris then marched UTSA 55 yards down the field in less than 20 seconds, keyed by a 25-yard completion over the middle to Oscar Cardenas that set up Jared Sackett’s 37-yard field that knotted the score as time expired.
Both teams settled for field goals in the first overtime period to send the game into a second extra period tied at 27-27. Tune found the end zone on a 1-yard keeper and then found Nathaniel Dell on the sideline on the required 2-point conversion attempt to make it 35-27.
The Roadrunners answered with a 13-yard TD catch by De’Corian Clark followed by a Harris plunge to paydirt that forced triple overtime, which consists of alternating two-point conversion attempts.
UTSA’s boisterous crowd helped forced a false start on Houston, but Tune scrambled to his right and dove into the end zone to put the visitors up by two.
The Roadrunners had one more shot to tie it up but the pass sailed out of bounds, as Houston held on to hand UTSA its first loss in a season opener at home and first setback in a season lid-lifter since 2018.
Harris completed 28 of 43 passes for 337 yards and added 63 yards on the ground. He connected with six different receivers, led by a pair who topped the century mark. Joshua Cephus caught 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown to record his second career 100-yard receiving game, while Zakhari Franklin hauled in 10 receptions for 100 yards to increase his school standard to 10 contests with 100-plus yards. Clark had 70 receiving yards and two TDs on seven catches.
Defensively, Jamal Ligon and Dadrian Taylor led the way with 10 tackles apiece and Trevor Harmanson added nine stops. Taylor also had a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery, while Ligon provided a pair of quarterback pressures. The Roadrunners registered four sacks with Brandon Brown’s 1.5 pacing the unit.
The Roadrunners rebounded from an early 7-0 deficit after an 11-yard TD reception by Dell early in the second quarter, reeling off 21-0 unanswered points.
Cephus broke loose on a short pass over the middle for a 51-yard touchdown reception to help tie the score. Harris then gave the home side the lead after a 38-yard dash to the end zone midway through the second stanza.
Clark hauled in a 15-yard touchdown to cap the next possession and give the Roadrunners a 14-point advantage.
Houston pulled to within one score on a 10-yard pass from Tune to Nathaniel Dell, capping a nine-play, 75-yard drive that made it 21-14 with 14:54 remaining.
On UTSA’s next possession, Caesar Nelson intercepted Harris after he was hit as he released a pass, and he returned to the UTSA 20-yard line with 12:26 left to play. On the next play, Tune found Joseph Manjack in the back of the end zone for a score and Baxa’s extra point tied it up at 21-all.
The Roadrunners will travel to West Point, New York, to face Army next Saturday, Sept, 10. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. Central time at Michie Stadium.