Another week, another nail-biting overtime for Jeff Traylor and the UTSA Roadrunners.
Both UTSA and Army came out determined to win their first game of the season and it showed in the play on the field. UTSA ultimately prevailed 41-38 but the outcome was extremely difficult to predict. UTSA needed a second half adjustment to overcome a poor opening performance while Army decimated UTSA through the air for their best passing performance in fifteen years. Fans of this series will no doubt want to see these two teams meet again on the gridiron.
As cliche as it sounds, this was a game of two halves.
The Houston hangover was real. UTSA needed an entire half just to get into rhythm as the offense continued to struggle with its own mistakes with undisciplined play. The Roadrunners were able to move the ball, but penalties killed UTSA’s drives and outright took points off the board. Quarterback Frank Harris found Gavin Sharp for a touchdown, but a holding penalty negated the points and Jared Sackett missed the 48-yard field goal.
Meanwhile, Army was looking for a bounce back in their home opener. The Black Knights are known for playing a very physical, run-first offense. Even so, it was the passing game that flourished. Quarterback Cade Ballard commanded Army’s offense with near perfect precision through the air, throwing for 144 yards on 5/6 passing in just the first half alone. But it was backup Tyhier Tyler who got the first points. With just one pass he found Ay’Juan Marshall at the middle of the filed, who exploded for 77 yards and the game’s first touchdown.
What kept UTSA competitive was turnovers. The Roadrunners forced a fumble and then Army muffed the punt, which lead to 7 points after Arkansas transfer Treylon Smith ran in from the one-yard line. Frank Harris then threw a touchdown—a dime into the endzone to Zakhari Franklin—after a second touchdown was nullified by another holding call. So, while UTSA forced two turnovers, they also had two touchdowns negated from penalties. The Roadrunners would only score twice in the first half despite multiple trips into Army territory.
Army’s offense continued to dominate, and Ballard looked extremely comfortable commanding the Black Knights. With just 1:26 left in the half Army marched downfield and punched in another score from running back Jakobi Buchanan. Army took a 21-14 lead into halftime, with all momentum in their favor.
Army would add to their lead at the start of the third quarter. Tyler again scored for the Black Knights and gave Army a 28-14 lead. But Ballard went down with severe leg pain on the drive and was carted off the field. It gave UTSA just the opening they needed, and it started with Frank Harris.
In the first half Harris looked a bit shaken and overthrew wide open receivers multiple times. But he came out the second half reenergized. On UTSA’s first drive of the second half Harris found his rhythm and began moving the Roadrunners downfield, converting twice on 3rd down to extend UTSA’s drive. Harris connected with Franklin for the second time to cut Army’s lead to 7 and after the defense forced a stop Harris again drove the Roadrunners downfield for the tying score. Harris did everything, including an 18-yard run after a sack threatened UTSA’s momentum.
UTSA’s defense continued to contain Army’s offense even after Ballard came back from injury. The Roadrunners would get another stop with a sack on 2nd down and Harris would engineer a 3-play series to take the lead, this time with a one-yard score from running back Brendan Brady. UTSA finally took the lead, 35-28, with just seven minutes left in the game.
But Army was not done. The Black Knights continued to pass the ball with tremendous success, and after a critical pass interference against UTSA on 3rd & 16, Ballard connected with Robinson for the tying score. UTSA’s pass defense was appalling bad all game, allowing Army to amass over 300 yards through the air—the most passing yards for Army since 2007. UTSA would have the final opportunity to score and win but Sackett missed his second field goal attempt, and the game went into overtime.
Army would get possession first but could only come away with three points after UTSA’s defense and offensive penalties stalled Army’s drive. On UTSA’s possession, Harris connected immediately with Franklin and then again with JT Clark for a touchdown to seal the win.
Final: UTSA 41 - Army 35
Thoughts and Observations
- Frank Harris is absolutely critical to UTSA’s season. He ended the game with 359 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions and was instrumental in extending UTSA’s drives in the second half. With his feet Harris has amassed over 700 yards of offense through two games, 6 touchdowns, and only one turnover. If he can keep this up UTSA will likely repeat as conference champions.
- Army is having success through the air despite being a run-first offense. Tyhier Tyler has connected with wide receiver Ay’Juan Marshall twice for huge touchdown catch and runs in as many games. And lead quarterback Cade Ballard looks comfortable in all facets of his game, both pitching and passing. The 300-yard passing game might be an anomaly but don’t be surprised if the Black Knights continue to find success through the air this season.
- Injuries are piling up for both teams. UTSA lost yet another offensive lineman to injury, making the offensive line even more thin for the rest of the season. And while Ballard ended up coming back into the game his leg injury was a dagger to Army’s offensive momentum. Army also lost two defensive players during UTSA’s drives and hopefully they will not miss significant time.
UTSA (1-1) heads on the road to face Texas (1-1) in Austin @ 7:00 PM CT.
Army (0-2) hosts Villanova (2-0) @ 11:00 AM CT.