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UTSA defense dominates in conference-opening win

The Roadrunners are off to a 3-0 start for the second straight season.

SAN ANTONIO — UTSA held Middle Tennessee to fewer than 200 yards of offense and off the scoreboard until the final three and a half minutes in a 27-13 victory in the Conference USA opener for both teams on Saturday at the Alamodome.

The Roadrunners limited the Blue Raiders (1-2) to only eight rushing yards in registering their second straight and fourth overall 3-0 start to a season. UTSA posted nine tackles for loss, including five sacks, and now has allowed just 321 total yards in the last two games combined followed last week's 54-0 shutout of Lamar.

Rashad Wisdom paced the defense with six tackles, while Charles Wiley tallied five stops, including 1.5 sacks, and a pair of quarterback hurries. Trumane Bell II led all players with two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in a four-tackle performance, and Lorenzo Dantzler had three QB pressures and his second career fumble return for a touchdown.

Offensively, Frank Harris completed 24 of 39 passes for 264 yards and two TDs. Zakhari Franklin hauled in eight passes for 114 yards — his second 100-yard receiving game of the year and seventh of his career — and a touchdown, while Joshua Cephus also caught eight balls for 84 yards and a score. Sincere McCormick topped the 100-yard mark on the ground for the second time this season and 12th of his career with 105 yards on 23 rushes, as he became the program's all-time leader in rushing attempts with 487.

The Roadrunners got on the board first late in the opening quarter when Franklin used a double move to get wide open down the left sideline for a 33-yard touchdown reception from Harris.

The Blue Raiders threatened to tie things up after Quincy Riley's 56-yard interception set up the visitors deep in UTSA territory. Wisdom picked off a Bailey Hockman pass in the end zone, but pass interference was called on the Roadrunners. On the next play, Corey Mayfield Jr. came up with an interception in the colored paint for a touchback, putting a stop to the drive.

Hunter Duplessis gave UTSA a 10-point lead late in the first half when he split the uprights from 30 yards.

The Roadrunners pushed their advantage to 17-0 after marching 76 yards on 15 plays on their opening drive of the second half. Harris found Cephus open over the middle for a 12-yard scoring connection to make it a three-possession game.

UTSA increased its lead to 24-0 early in the final frame, as Bell's strip-sack led to Dantzler's 3-yard fumble return for a TD.

Duplessis nailed a 39-yard field goal with 8:01 remaining to make it 27-0 in favor of the Roadrunners.

Middle Tennessee put together two scoring drives in the final minutes.

Jimmy Marshall hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from Chase Cunningham with 3:28 left to play to put an end to UTSA's shutout streak that dated back to the fourth quarter of the win at Illinois on Sept. 4.

The Blue Raiders found the end zone again with less than a minute on the clock when Cunningham hit Jarrin Pierce on a 16-yard TD pass. The extra point made it a 14-point contest but UTSA recovered the onside kick to seal its third consecutive win over Middle Tennessee.

The Roadrunners will hit the road to face Memphis (3-0) next Saturday, Sept. 25. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and the game will be televised nationally on ESPNU.