Joshua Cephus caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Frank Harris and the defense forced an incompletion on fourth down in the second overtime, as UTSA outlasted UAB 44-38 in Conference USA action on Saturday afternoon at Protective Stadium.
Playing their program-record third overtime game of the season, the Roadrunners won for the first time in Birmingham to improve to 7-2 overall, run their winning streak to six games and maintain sole possession of first place in the league with a 5-0 mark. The Roadrunners registered the most points and passing yards (285) allowed by UAB this season, which entered the contest holding opponents to 18.5 points and 171.0 passing yards per game.
UTSA held a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter but the Blazers (4-5, 2-4) rallied to tie things up in the final minutes. Trailing 31-24 with 1:15 left to play, UAB put together an eight-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Zeno to Trea Shropshire with 15 seconds remaining. Matt Quinn’s extra point knotted the score to force overtime.
UAB took a 38-31 lead in the first extra period on an 11-yard TD catch by Tejhuan Palmer, but UTSA answered with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg to send the contest into a second OT.
The Roadrunners took a 44-38 advantage after Cephus’ TD catch on a wheel route down the right sideline, and the defense then held strong, as Nick Booker-Brown made a key sack on third down and Corey Mayfield and Clifford Chattman provided coverage on a long pass attempt on fourth down to secure the victory.
Mayfield registered four tackles and picked off a pass for the third game in a row, becoming just the second Roadrunner in program annals to register an interception in three consecutive games.
Ken Robinson paced the defense with 12 tackles, while Chattman, Jamal Ligon and Dywan Griffin posted seven stops apiece.
Meanwhile, Harris completed 22 of 31 passes for 285 yards and four touchdowns and the senior added 35 rushing yards to lead the offense.
Kevorian Barnes logged his second 100-yard game on the ground this fall, rushing 16 times for 114 yards and a score, as the Roadrunners churned out 209 rushing and 494 total yards.
Pinned at their own 1-yard line on their opening possession, the Roadrunners marched 99 yards to get on the board first. After converting a pair of third-down tries, Harris found a wide-open Oscar Cardenas, who rumbled for 54 yards down to the UAB 20. On the next play, Zakhari Franklin hauled in a sideline pass near the goal line and found paydirt to put the visitors up by a touchdown early.
UTSA extended its lead to 10-0 when Jared Sackett split the uprights from 29 yards with 9:15 left until halftime. Barnes had 43 rushing yards to spearhead the scoring drive.
The Roadrunners then surprised the Blazers with an onside kick by Tate Sandell that he recovered near midfield. Sackett capped a seven-play, 40-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal to make it 13-0.
UAB running back DeWayne McBride broke free for a 68-yard touchdown dash to cut the UTSA lead to 13-7, but Sackett drilled another field goal, this time from 46 yards, to put the Roadrunners up by nine at the 2:21 mark of the second quarter.
The Blazers made it 16-10 at the half after Quinn booted a 30-yard field goal with 25 seconds on the clock. \
UAB took its first lead of the day after McBride capped a 13-play, 90-yard drive that took 7:40 off the clock with a 2-yard TD plunge. The extra point made it 17-16 with 5:23 left in the third frame.
The Roadrunners responded with a seven-play, 75-yard march that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown rush for Barnes, who accounted for 70 of the yards including a 42-yard reception down to the 10.
UAB drove all the way to the UTSA 21 for a fourth-down-and-two attempt that was stuffed in the backfield by Brandon Brown. The Roadrunners then went on a nine-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Franklin’s second touchdown catch of the day, a 12-yard grab in the corner of the end zone. UTSA went for two points and converted on another Harris-to-Franklin connection to make it 31-17 midway through the final stanza.
The Blazers made it a one-score game once again, covering 77 yards in nine plays, the last a 1-yard TD on a keeper by Zeno with 4:39 remaining.
Franklin caught seven balls for 93 yards and a pair of TDs, while Oscar Cardenas hauled in four passes for 86 yards, both career highs.
McBride led UAB with 141 yards on 19 carries, while Zeno threw for 332 on 27-of-38 passing.
The Roadrunners will return home to host Louisiana Tech next Saturday, Nov. 12. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at the Alamodome.