The UTSA Roadrunners keep running toward a possible return to the Conference USA championship game. That road stayed open Saturday after UTSA held off the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers in double overtime 44-38 at Protective Stadium in Birmingham. 

It was the first win in Birmingham for the Roadrunners (7-2, 5-0 Conference USA) and the Roadrunners’ first visit to UAB’s new stadium. UAB (4-5, 2-4 Conference USA) had won the two previous meetings in Birmingham in 2018 and 2020. Both of those games were played at UAB’s old stadium, Legion Field.

“It’s hard to win college football games,” UTSA running back Kevorian Barnes said. “We are happy to come on the road and win.”

UAB didn’t make it easy for the Roadrunners, as twice the Blazers overcame double-digit deficits. The Roadrunners raced out to a 13-0 lead with a first-quarter touchdown pass from Frank Harris to Zakhari Franklin and a pair of Jared Sackett field goals in the second quarter. 

The Roadrunners suffered a major injury in the first quarter when wide receiver De’Corian “JT” Clark injured his leg after making a 9-yard catch. Clark tried to make it back to the UTSA sideline but had to be carted off the field.

UAB cut the deficit to 16-10 before halftime thanks to a 68-yard touchdown run by DeWayne McBride and a field goal.

The Blazers took their first lead, 17-16, with 5:23 left in the third quarter when McBride scored on a 2-yard run. 

UTSA responded on its next drive. The Roadrunners went 75 yards in seven plays. Barnes accounted for 70 of those yards, including the final yard the Roadrunners needed for the go-ahead touchdown, making the score 23-17 with 2:05 left in the third quarter. 

UTSA increased its lead to 31-17 in the fourth quarter when Harris and Franklin connected for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Harris then threw to Franklin for a 2-point conversion with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter.

UAB cut into UTSA’s 14-point lead on its next drive when quarterback Jacob Zeno scored on a 1-yard run with 4:39 left.

The Roadrunners had a chance to run out the clock, but the drive stalled and UTSA had to punt with 1:22 left to play in the fourth quarter. A minute and seven seconds later the Blazers had driven 80 yards downfield and tied the score at 31-31 on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Zeno to Trea Shropshire.

“I thought it was one of our better games we’ve played — one of our most complete games,” UTSA Head Coach Jeff Traylor said. “We just blew it there in the end [of regulation play].”

Both teams scored touchdowns in the first overtime period. UAB was first on offense and scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Zeno to Tejhaun Palmer. UTSA kept the game going with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Harris to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg.

In the second overtime, UTSA was on offense first. Harris connected with Josh Cephus for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Roadrunners up 44-38. The Roadrunners had to go for 2 after the touchdown but were unable to convert it.

UTSA’s defense came on and stopped the Blazers’ offense on the next drive to help the Roadrunners get out of Birmingham with the win.

“It was tough for us to get into overtime,” Harris said. “We prepare for those moments all the time. We came out victorious today.”

Next up for the Roadrunners is a return to the Alamodome on Saturday to host Louisiana Tech. That game kicks off at 2:30 p.m.

Stephen Whitaker has been covering UTSA athletics since the fall of 2008. He is a 2013 graduate of UTSA.