The UTSA Roadrunners opened their Conference USA season with a 37-35 victory over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders Friday night. This is the first time since 2017 that the Roadrunners have opened the season with three straight wins. Check out UTSA Edges out MTSU for more on this game.
UTSA Edges Out MTSU
The UTSA Roadrunners welcomed the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders to the Alamodome in the team’s conference opener. UTSA came into this game as a six-point favorite and proved that they needed every point in this close matchup. UTSA is currently ranked atop their division with a 3-0 overall record and a 1-0 conference record. The new Jeff Traylor era has proved to be a turn in the right direction for the young program.
This game was back and forth for much of the time. The Blue Raiders took an early field goal lead in the first quarter. However, UTSA was able to respond early in the second quarter after a Frank Harris 25-yard touchdown pass to Zakhari Franklin. Minutes later, UTSA’s Donyai Taylor intercepted an Asher O’Hara pass which would then result in an 11-yard touchdown run from Sincere McCormick. The Blue Raiders were able to mount a touchdown drive with a minute left on the clock. But, UTSA took advantage of the time left and ended the half with a field goal and a 17-10 lead going into the locker room.
UTSA was able to hold a steady lead until midway through the third quarter after an MTSU touchdown. The Roadrunners would soon score seven of their own and take a 27-23 lead. UTSA would follow this up with another quick score increasing their lead to 11 points. The Blue Raiders would answer with a touchdown of their own. However, a failed two-point conversion would prove to be a crucial mistake for MTSU. UTSA would tack on another field goal, giving them a 37-29 lead. MTSU would score another touchdown in the dying embers of the game. However, another failed two-point conversion would seal the victory for UTSA.
Frank Harris Injury
Although the Roadrunners won this game, they still had a massive loss. Harris would go down with an apparent knee injury with just over one minute remaining in the first half. This is a major concern considering that Harris has previously torn both of his ACLs and missed an entire season due to the injury. Harris was just recently named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week following a massive 373 yard and three-touchdown performance against Stephen F. Austin. Harris will undergo an MRI on the knee this weekend.
UTSA has a deep depth chart at the quarterback position. Three of the quarterbacks on the roster have at least one start. However, the Roadrunners looked to New Mexico State transfer Josh Adkins after Harris went down. Adkins played in 22 games at NMSU and was well suited to take over. Adkins completed 16 of his 28 attempts for 233 yards and one touchdown in just over two-quarters of play. He was everything you could have asked out of a backup. He did not turn the ball over, he made deliberate passes, and he kept the offense on the field. If Harris’ injury proves to be serious, Roadrunner fans should have full confidence in Adkins playing the starting role.
The first game ball must go to Sincere McCormick. He rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s win. He also caught two passes for 25 yards. McCormick is clearly one of the focal points of this offense and with Harris out, his role will likely expand. McCormick is currently the NCAA leading rusher with 377 yards through three games. He is averaging just over 125 yards/game and is a problem for opposing defenses. Expect him to continue to get many opportunities and chances to score the ball moving forward.
The second game ball goes out to Zakhari Franklin. Franklin, who sat out the first to games, made his first appearance this season against MTSU. He showed out in a big way after catching six passes for 119 yards and one touchdown. He is just another weapon for the UTSA receiving core and is the perfect player to pair alongside Joshua Cephus.
A Look Ahead
UTSA will take on the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers next week in Birmingham. The Blazers are currently 2-1 and are fresh off a dominant 42-10 victory over South Alabama. The Blazers currently have an 88% chance to win the game, so the Roadrunners will have their hands full in this Conference USA matchup.