Frank Harris engineered the game-winning drive that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown pass to De’Corian Clark with 15 seconds left and the UTSA defense limited the nation’s No. 6 rushing offense to 22 yards in a 31-27 victory over North Texas in Conference USA action on Saturday at the Alamodome.
Trailing 27-24 with 1:38 on the clock, Harris led the Roadrunners on a seven-play, 75-yard drive to paydirt. The senior dashed 22 yards on a quarterback draw and later found Oscar Cardenas open over the middle on a one-handed grab over a defender down to the 10-yard line. On the next play with time winding down, Harris tossed the game-winner to Clark in the left corner of the end zone to put the Roadrunners alone atop the C-USA standings at 4-0. Jared Sackett’s extra point gave UTSA a four-point advantage and the Roadrunners then sealed the win when Martavius French recovered a squib kick by Tate Sandell.
UTSA won its fifth straight game to improve to 6-2 overall, becoming bowl eligible for the third consecutive season under head coach Jeff Traylor, who logged his 25th win at helm and career victory No. 200 when combined with his 175-26 mark at Gilmer High School.
Meanwhile, UTSA held the Mean Green’s vaunted ground game to 22 yards. North Texas (4-4, 3-1) entered the game averaging 251.3 yards per game and was coming off a 475-yard output in a 47-27 win over Louisiana Tech, but the Roadrunners surrendered an average of one yard per rush in holding the visitors to 347 total yards.
The Mean Green held a slim lead after three quarters before a wild final period unfolded.
Brenden Brady found the end zone for the second time on the afternoon on a 1-yard dive to help UTSA reclaim the lead, 17-13 with 13:09 remaining. Brady finished with 112 rushing yards to notch his second career 100-yard game.
UNT retook the lead after Austin Aune hit Var’Keyes Gumms on a 44-yard catch-and-run that made it 20-17 with less than 10 minutes to play.
The two teams then traded punts, but Avery Morris got a piece of Bernardo Rodriguez’s kick that resulted in a 23-yard punt, setting up the Roadrunners near midfield with 5:27 on the clock.
A 17-yard completion from Harris to Cardenas and a 22-yard run by Brady helped set up a 6-yard TD pass to Joshua Cephus, who caught a career-high 11 passes for 88 yards. Sackett’s extra point put UTSA up 24-20 with 2:36 to go.
UNT struck quickly, as a 46-yard reception by Gumms down to the 4-yard line set up a 1-yard TD rush by Oscar Adaway to put the Mean Green back on top 27-24 before UTSA’s game-winning drive.
Harris completed 27 of 39 passes for 238 yards and two TDs and also rushed for 75 on 16 carries, while Kevorian Barnes added 54 yards on 10 totes, as UTSA piled up a season-high 257 rushing yards. The Roadrunners matched the school record with 95 plays and totaled 495 yards for the day.
Defensively, Clifford Chattman led the way with nine tackles and three pass breakups, while Corey Mayfield Jr. also broke up three passes and registered his second interception in as many weeks to go with four stops. Dadrian Taylor posted 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack, a PBU and a QB hurry, while Kelechi Nwachuku added five tackles.
The Mean Green took advantage of an early interception by Ridge Texada that led to a 49-yard field goal by Ethan Mooney for a 3-0 lead fewer than two minutes into the game.
Mooney connected from 40 yards late in the opening stanza to push the UNT lead to 6-0 on a drive that was keyed by a 58-yard reception from Jyaire Shorter.
UTSA got on the board late in the second quarter after Sackett split the uprights from 32 yards to cut the deficit in half, capping a 12-play, 53-yard drive that took 5:34 off the clock.
The Roadrunners took their first lead of the day after converting a Mayfield interception into seven points. His second pick of the year gave the ball to the offense at the UNT 38-yard line. Nine plays later, Brenden Brady plunged into the end zone and Sackett’s PAT gave the home team a 10-6 advantage.
The Mean Green quickly reclaimed the lead on the next possession, covering 72 yards in only three plays, as Aune’s 54-yard pass to Roderic Burns set up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jake Roberts with a little more than eight minutes left in the third quarter for a 13-10 edge.
Aune passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns while Burns hauled in six passes for 139 yards and Gumms had three catches for 92.
The Roadrunners are off next weekend before traveling to Birmingham, Alabama, to face UAB on Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m.