The UTSA defense dominated an opponent for the second game in a row, and the Roadrunners opened Conference USA play with a 27-13 victory over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Saturday at the Alamodome.

The Roadrunners (3-0) got out to an early lead and stayed in control throughout the game, leading 27-0 until the final minutes, when Middle Tennessee scored two touchdowns against mostly UTSA substitutes.

“It was a game that our defense totally dominated from the start to the finish,” said UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor, whose team was coming off a 54-0 rout of Lamar.

The UTSA defense stopped Middle Tennessee from cashing in on three Roadrunner turnovers and forced two turnovers by the Blue Raiders.

Middle Tennessee converted just two of 14 third downs, and UTSA held the Blue Raiders to just 8 rushing yards and 199 yards of total offense one week after limiting Lamar to 122 yards. The Roadrunners registered five sacks of Middle Tennessee quarterbacks Bailey Hockman and Chase Cunningham.

UTSA quarterback Frank Harris was 24 for 39 for 262 yards and two touchdowns but also threw two interceptions.

Both teams traded turnovers early in the game before UTSA was able to figure things out and march 86 yards in seven plays to score on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Harris to wide receiver Zakhari Franklin with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter. Franklin got off to a quick start, grabbing five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter and ended the game with 114 yards. 

A Middle Tennessee interception in the second quarter by cornerback Quincy Riley set up the Blue Raiders with short field position. UTSA cornerback Corey Mayfield Jr. intercepted a pass at the goal line to keep Middle Tennessee off the board. UTSA was able to capitalize on the turnover and extend the lead with a 30-yard field goal from Hunter Duplessis, making it 10-0 at halftime. 

“We feed off defense, and when defense is going out there making plays like that for the offense, it kind of gives us a sigh of relief and we know that defense has our back,” said running back Sincere McCormick, who led the Roadrunners’ rushing game with 105 yards on 23 carries.

The Roadrunners started the second half with a 76-yard drive that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Harris to wide receiver Joshua Cephus to make it 17-0. UTSA’s defense added to the lead when defensive lineman Lorenzo Dantzler recovered a fumble and returned it 3 yards for a touchdown with 12:56 remaining in the game. 

After Duplessis’ 38-yard field goal that made it 27-0 with 8:01 remaining, Middle Tennessee scored on a 23-yard pass from Cunningham to Jimmy Marshall, but the Blue Raiders’ two-point conversion attempt failed. Another quick touchdown pass from Cunningham to Jarrin Pierce for 16 yards closed out the scoring with less than a minute to play.

“It’s a conference game, you got to win it,” Traylor said. “There’s no game more important than that one.”

The announced attendance at the Alamodome was 16,202. 

UTSA next travels to Memphis for a nonconference game against a 3-0 team coming off a 31-29 win over Mississippi State. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

Alejandro Martinez

Alejandro Martinez is a San Antonian studying finance at the University of Texas at San Antonio.