The UTSA Roadrunners (2-2) ended their out of conference schedule with a much-needed win over the Texas Southern Tigers (1-3) on Saturday and were able to avoid serious injuries heading into conference play. But despite the lopsided score this game was nothing like a typical blowout. The Roadrunners couldn’t put the Tigers away until the fourth quarter and showed surprising vulnerability on defense. It wasn’t the prettiest win for UTSA and the Roadrunners will need to make adjustments going forward, but UTSA is right on track to potentially repeat as conference champions.
The spread for this game favored UTSA by over 42 points. Texas Southern didn’t get the memo. The Tigers came to play and while they only scored 24 points they amassed 464 total yards on the Roadrunners, with a nearly even distribution between running yards and passing yards.
Texas Southern was able to tie the game 7-7, was down only 4 by halftime, and kept the game within two scores heading into the fourth quarter. The Tigers converted nearly half their 3rd down attempts and also forced two turnovers that either turned into points or stalled UTSA’s offense. Quarterback Andrew Body threw for 229 yards and ran for another 45 yards while running back Jacorey Howard amassed 88 yards, with an average of 7.3 yards per attempt. It was a strong showing for this FCS squad and the performance reinforced why the Tigers are optimistic that Body can elevate the program going forwards.
For UTSA, the game was a mixture of good and bad. Statistically, the Roadrunners absolutely dominated in the passing game. Frank Harris passed for an absurd 392 yards—breaking UTSA’s single game passing record for a quarterback—and 4 touchdowns without a turnover. He also scored a touchdown while scrambling, leaping over a defender to get into the endzone.
The Roadrunners added two additional program records in the win. Wide receiver De’Corian “JT” Clark broke the single-game receiving record with 217 yards and also scoring 3 touchdowns. And after over a decade of existence, UTSA finally scored a kickoff return touchdown for the first time in program history when sophomore Chris Carpenter ran back a 97-yard return right after Texas Southern tied the game.
But untimely penalties and defensive lapses came back again to bite UTSA. The team committed 5 penalties for 70 yards but two came on one drive that helped the Tigers get back into the game in the first half. After taking a 21-7 lead the Roadrunners gifted Texas Southern 30 yards with a facemask penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, allowing the Tigers to score in just 47 seconds to narrow the score 21-14. UTSA’s run defense also showed glaring weaknesses, allowing both Howard and running back Ladarius Owens to break off 30+ yard runs and giving up a total of 235 yards on 50 carries, for an average of nearly 5 yards per carry.
In fact, UTSA needed two turnovers themselves to keep the Tigers in check. Texas Southern had a chance to equalize again in the second quarter but Body was picked off in the endzone by junior Dywan Griffin for UTSA’s first interception of the season. In the second half UTSA again picked off Body, this time by junior Avery Morris, to keep a two-score lead and shut down the Tigers’ comeback attempt. Absent these turnovers, the game could well have been closer, and the Roadrunners would not have had the opportunity to give their backups some valuable game time. But they did, and back-up quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger saw the field and scored his first touchdown of the season.
Overall, the game showcased strong offensive plays from both teams and gave fans some comfort heading into conference play. The Tigers showed that they have vastly improved over the years and will likely be competitive in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. UTSA, while still vulnerable and even more so with injuries, showed that the offense will continue to impress when led by Frank Harris and the wide receiving corps.
UTSA travels to Middle Tennessee, Friday September 30 @ 6:30 PM CT.
Texas Southern returns home to play Alabama State, Saturday October 1 @ 6:00 PM CT