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Roadrunners rout Rice, move to 7-0

UTSA's latest win might have been the most impressive of its 2021 campaign yet.

SAN ANTONIO — Trevor Harmanson and Corey Mayfield Jr. each had an interception return for a touchdown and Joshua Cephus caught a pair of TD passes to lead UTSA to a 45-0 shutout of Rice in Conference USA action on Saturday night in front of 27,515 fans at the Alamodome.

The Roadrunners held the Owls to 102 yards of offense — a school record for fewest yards allowed — to improve to 7-0 overall and 3-0 in league play for the first time in school history with their second shutout of the season and largest margin of victory in a conference game. UTSA now is riding the longest winning streak in program annals and has won 10 of its last 11 contests dating back to last season.

The two interception returns for scores marked the third time UTSA has posted two defensive touchdowns in a game and the first since the 25-6 win at UTEP in 2015. It was Mayfield's second INT of the season and fourth of his career, while Harmanson picked off a pass for the second time as a Roadrunner to go along with a sack for a 9-yard loss.

Offensively, UTSA piled up 403 yards of offense, including a season-high 261 on the ground. Sincere McCormick led the way by posting his fifth 100-yard game of the season and school-record 15th of his career with 117 yards on 13 carries (9.0 ypc), while B.J. Daniels added 54 yards on seven rushes.

Frank Harris completed 12 of 19 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 47 yards on five totes. His favorite target was Cephus, who had four catches for 63 yards and the two scores.  

The Roadrunners raced out to a 17-0 lead through the first 15 minutes and never looked back in winning for the sixth straight time against Rice (2-4, 1-1).

Harris put the home team on the board first on a 7-yard keeper around the left end on the opening possession of the game.

Hunter Duplessis pushed the lead to 10-0 after splitting the uprights from 30 yards at the 4:28 mark of the first quarter. 

Rice pinned UTSA deep in its own end of the field late in the opening frame, but McCormick broke free for a career-long 81-yard dash down the right sideline to put the Roadrunners in the red zone again. After a second straight rush by the Converse Judson High School product, Harris handed off to B.J. Daniels, who scampered 11 yards up the middle to the end zone to help make it a three-score game.

The defense came up with the first of two scores on the Owls' next possessions. Clarence Hicks deflected a screen-pass attempt and Harmanson plucked it out of the air and returned it 40 yards to pay dirt to put UTSA up 24-0.

Cephus' first touchdown reception of the night came on a 2-yard pass from Harris gave the Roadrunners a 31-0 halftime cushion.

On Rice's opening drive of the second half, Mayfield stepped in front of an out route in the flat and went 49 yards untouched for his first career TD to extend the lead to 38-0.

Cephus made an acrobatic grab in the corner of the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Harris with 4:08 left in in the third quarter to help provide the final 45-point margin.

Rashad Wisdom paced the defense with six tackles and a tackle for loss, while Ken Robinson had five tackles, including 1.5 TFL, and Kelechi Nwachuku made five stops. The defense tallied a season-high 10 total tackles behind the line of scrimmage, with Hicks leading with a pair.

The Roadrunners will hit the road to face Louisiana Tech next Saturday, Oct. 23. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in Ruston and the game will be televised by Stadium (KMYS-TV or WOAI-2 in San Antonio).

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