Frank Harris passed for 382 yards and three touchdowns, the UTSA defense held UTEP scoreless over the final 26 minutes and 56 seconds and Jared Sackett drilled a 28-yard field goal with three seconds left as the Roadrunners rallied from a 24-0 deficit for a 34-31 win in the Conference USA regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome.
UTSA was victorious for the ninth straight game to finish off a perfect 8-0 league slate, putting a stamp on its first undefeated conference record in program history. The Roadrunners moved to 10-2 on the season, reaching double-digit wins for the second straight season, and the defending champions will host North Texas (7-5) in the Ryan C-USA Championship Game at 6:30 p.m. next Friday, Dec. 2.
The Miners (5-7, 3-5) stormed out to a 24-0 lead through the first 22 minutes only to see UTSA pull off the biggest comeback by margin of points in school history, eclipsing the 21-point rally in the 31-28 win over Memphis last season.
UTEP built a 31-14 advantage early in the second half after a 5-yard touchdown run by Reynaldo Flores at the 11:56 mark of the third quarter capped a 66-yard drive that was kept alive by a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt.
The Roadrunners responded by scoring 20 unanswered points down the stretch to pull off their sixth straight win against the Miners.
Harris found Zakhari Franklin wide open in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown pass that was set up by a 44-yard catch from Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, making it 31-21.
The defense then forced a punt and Sackett split the uprights from 51 yards with 2:20 left in the third, tying his career long and marking the second-longest kick in school history to make it a one-score game.
UTSA came up with a three-and-out to get the ball back at its 30-yard line following another UTEP punt. On the next play, Harris hit Ogle-Kellogg over the top for a 70-yard TD pass as time expired in the third quarter. Sackett’s extra point made it 31-31 heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Miners were threatening to reclaim the lead, but Clifford Chattman put an end to the drive by picking off a pass for the third game in a row, tying the school record set in 2015 by Michael Egwuagu and matched earlier this season by Corey Mayfield Jr.
The two teams then traded punts before Harris guided the home team on the game-winning drive. With 4:03 left on the clock to start the possession, the senior quarterback hit Ogle-Kellogg for 17 yards and Franklin for 28 to set up an 18-yard dash by Kevorian Barnes down to the UTEP 21. After a pair of Barnes rushes, Harris kept around left end for seven yards and a first down to help set up Sackett’s field goal with three ticks remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, Zah Frazier forced UTEP’s returner out of bounds to seal the win.
Harris completed 16 of 22 passes for a school-record average of 23.9 yards per completion, breaking his own UTSA standard for passing yards in a season, as he now has 3,524. He also has tied his own mark with 27 touchdown passes this fall.
Franklin caught seven balls for 126 yards and a score, his third 100-yard performance of the season and UTSA-record 12th of his career.
Ogle-Kellogg enjoyed a career day with four receptions for 142 yards and a TD, as the Roadrunners piled up 458 yards of offense.
Meanwhile, Jamal Ligon paced the defense with 11 tackles, while Mayfield and Kelechi Nwachuku added seven and six stops, respectively.
The Miners struck first, marching 70 yards in five plays, the last a 15-yard touchdown pass from Calvin Brownholtz to James Tupou.
UTEP pushed the lead to 14-0 after a 45-yard TD pass from Brownholtz to Tyrin Smith at the 3:26 mark of the opening period.
Gavin Baechle booted a 44-yard field goal early in the second stanza to make it 17-0 in favor of the visitors.
Brownholtz scored on a 23-yard quarterback keeper midway through the second quarter to put UTEP up 24-0.
UTSA finally got on the board with fewer than six minutes left to play in the opening half. UTSA tight end Oscar Cardenas took a direct snap under center to convert a fourth-down-and-one attempt and then Harris found Cephus wide open for a 65-yard scoring connection.
Dadrian Taylor then picked off a Brownholtz pass and returned it 73 yards to the end zone to make it a two-score contest with 94 seconds remaining in the half. That pick-six now stands as the third-longest in UTSA history and it gives the senior from Shiner sole possession of first place in the school record book with three interception return touchdowns.
Brownholtz threw for 189 yards and two TDs, Smith caught four passes for 99 yards and Ronald Awatt rushed for 79 yards to lead the Miners’ offense.
The 2022 Ryan C-USA Championship Game is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Alamodome and the game will air on CBS Sports Network and Ticket 760 AM. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com.