UTSA piled up 486 yards of offense, including a season-high 213 on the ground, and held Western Kentucky to 15 points below their scoring average in a 31-28 victory in Conference USA action on Saturday evening at the Alamodome.
The Roadrunners ran their record to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in the league with their third straight win. It also marked UTSA’s third consecutive victory against the Hilltoppers (3-3, 1-1), all in the last year and all in one-possession outcomes.
Frank Harris completed 24 of 35 passes for 273 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 61 yards and a score to help UTSA top 450 yards of offense for the third straight and fourth overall game this season.
Brenden Brady paced the ground attack with 82 yards and a TD on 19 carries to go along with four receptions for 51 yards, while Trelon Smith added 65 yards on 12 totes to help the Roadrunners eclipse their previous season best rushing yardage total of 167 posted in the win at Middle Tennessee last week.
Zakhari Franklin hauled in six passes for a team-best 95 yards, while Joshua Cephus had eight receptions for 46 yards and De’Corian Clark added four catches for 62 yards.
Defensively, Rashad Wisdom paced UTSA with a season-high 10 tackles, including eight solo stops to become the program’s all-time leader, and one pass breakup. Donyai Taylor registered a career-high eight tackles with six unassisted. Corey Mayfield Jr. broke up a pair of passes and logged six solo stops, while Nick Booker-Brown and Clifford Chattman posted two PBUs apiece for a unit that registered three fourth-down stops in the second half.
UTSA built a 10-point lead twice in the second half only to see WKU pull to within three points both times.
Armed with a 17-14 halftime advantage, the Roadrunners made it a two-score contest early in the third quarter. Chris Carpenter evaded defenders on an 8-yard run around left end to the goal line but fumbled into the end zone. Cephus was in the right place at the right time, falling on the loose football to help give UTSA a 24-14 lead.
WKU cut the deficit to three early in the final period after Michael Mathison’s 18-yard touchdown reception with 12:11 left to play.
The visitors then attempted an onside kick, but Kyle Wakefield alertly pounced on the ball to set up the Roadrunners at the WKU 43-yard line. Harris then hit Franklin for 31 yards over the middle and then found Clark in the corner of the end zone for a 12-yard scoring connection to help extend the lead to double digits again.
The Hilltoppers got back to within three points after Kye Robichaux dashed 33 yards to paydirt midway through the fourth quarter.
WKU got the ball back again after a UTSA fumble and marched into plus territory, only to see Wisdom break up a fourth-down pass attempt by Austin Reed, giving the home side the ball at its own 34 with 3:41 remaining.
UTSA was able to run out the rest of the clock after a key fourth-down conversion by Cephus on a short pass to the left side from Harris with 1:50 left.
The Roadrunners built their 17-14 halftime lead behind a 12-yard touchdown scamper from Harris, a 3-yard plunge by Brady and a 49-yard field goal from Jared Sackett as time expired in the first half.
Reed threw for 373 yards and two TDs on 35-of-49 passing and Malachi Corley led all players with 11 catches for 131 yards, while Daewood Davis had 120 yards on eight receptions.
The Roadrunners will travel to Miami to face FIU next Friday, Oct. 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.