Frank Harris sets single-game assists record as UTSA hangs on to beat Middle Tennessee


MURFEESBORO, Tenn. –Limping into Friday’s American Conference opener with a series of injuries, coach Jeff Traylor said the Roadrunners just had to “find a way to go home” with a win to enjoy a rare relaxing Saturday.

For the 20th time in 31 games under Traylor, UTSA was locked in a one-scored game in the fourth quarter, after an 18-point lead fizzled when three straight drives ended in interceptions.

But the UTSA defense forced a late turnaround on downs, Brenden Brady hit a 25-yard touchdown down the middle, and the Roadrunners found a way to hold on for a 45-30 win over the Blue Raiders at the Floyd Stadium.

Quarterback Frank Harris continued to etch his name in the program record books, setting a new single-game program mark with 414 passing yards on 27 of 36 passes (75%).

The national leader in total offense at the start of the week, Harris threw two touchdown passes, added a pair of rushing scores and even had a 9-yard catch on a gimmick play.

Brady rushed for 98 yards and a score, while Trelon Smith scored 31 rushing yards and a touchdown after missing the previous two weeks with injury. De’Corian Clark paced UTSA through the air with 139 yards, while Zakhari Franklin had 98 yards and two touchdowns.

Even with four potential offensive tackle starters still injured, the Roadrunners rushed for more than 70 yards and scored on six of their first eight drives, reaching the end zone five times to take a three-point lead in the third quarter.

Harris hit Franklin for a 43-yard touchdown on an oblique pattern less than three minutes into the game. After Middle Tennessee scored on a 38-yard pass from Chase Cunningham to Yusuf Ali, Harris and Franklin connected again.

With a defender draped over his back, Franklin hit a 28-yard touchdown, Harris dropping the ball over his shoulder for a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Middle Tennessee responded with a 53-yard touchdown down the middle by Darius Bracy, but the Roadrunners again extended the lead to two scores, with Trelon Smith hitting in a rushing 2-yard touchdown.

Harris scored on a 5-yard keeper late in the second quarter, and Middle Tennessee’s field goal on the final snap before halftime made the margin 31-20.

The Roadrunners extended the lead to 38-20 midway through the third quarter, with Harris bouncing off three would-be tacklers to spin into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown.

But Middle Tennessee began to rally in the fourth quarter, catching interceptions on three straight UTSA possessions. After a Blue Raiders field goal, defensive lineman Jordan Branch fended off a cut block attempt and raised his hand to catch a Harris pass, snarling 37 yards for a touchdown that cut the margin to 38-30 with about 10 minutes to play.

Middle Tennessee regained possession with about seven minutes left, but the UTSA defense held on, forcing a turnover in the lows near midfield with less than four minutes left. Brady’s touchdown with less than two minutes left iced the victory for UTSA.

Harris’ passing production beat a mark he set six days earlier, when he racked up 392 yards in a 52-24 win over Texas Southern. He also became the Roadrunners’ career passing leader with 7,017 yards, continuing to establish himself as perhaps the most prolific player in the program’s young history.

Prior to this season, UTSA quarterbacks had thrown for 300 or more passing yards just 10 times. Harris hit the 300-yard mark at halftime on Friday and eclipsed the total four times in five games this season, taking his total for the year to 1,724 – more than half the single-season record of 3 177 he posted last year.

He also extended his career by passing the touchdown mark to 54.

Twitter: @GregLuca


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