No. 23 UTSA escapes Southern Miss’ upset bid, remains unbeaten
Hunter Duplessis kicked a 24-yard tie-breaking field goal with 4:39 remaining and No. 23 Texas-San Antonio added a clinching touchdown three plays later Saturday to enable the undefeated Roadrunners to hold off Southern Mississippi, 27-17, in San Antonio.
UTSA (10-0, 6-0 Conference USA) is one of three remaining unbeaten teams in FBS, with only No. 1 Georgia and No. 5 Cincinnati.
UTSA, which is ranked 23rd by the College Football Playoff committee and 15th by AP, didn’t lead until Duplessis’ kick. It was set up by Jahmal Sam’s recovery of an Antavious Willis fumble at the Golden Eagles’ 35-yard-line. Willis, playing as a wildcat quarterback, was stripped of the ball by Jaylon Haynes.
First-year Southern Miss coach Will Hall surprised UTSA by utilizing Willis and running back Frank Gore Jr. as wildcat quarterbacks throughout the game.
Gore and Willis attempted only seven passes between them, completing four for Southern Miss (1-9, 0-6). Gore rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Lange, who had started the previous four games, did not play.
On the Golden Eagles’ first play from scrimmage following Duplessis’ field goal, Willis was victimized by Corey Mayfield’s strip sack. Charles Wiley picked up the loose ball and returned it 8 yards to the Southern Miss 9.
Sincere McCormick ran it in on the next play to seal the outcome.
After Duplessis opened the scoring with a 43-yard field goal for the Roadrunners, Southern Miss shockingly grabbed a 7-3 lead with 10:32 left in the second quarter when Gore scored on a 9-yard run on fourth-and-1, again from a direct snap.
After Bourgeois connected from 36 yards with 2:19 remaining in the half, it took the Roadrunners only four plays to go 75 yards to tie it at 10. Harris hit Joshua Cephus with a short pass on the left sideline and Cephus cut back and weaved his way for a 40-yard catch-and-run score.
UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, who had thrown only three interceptions prior to Saturday, was picked off twice. His second interception gave Southern Miss a 17-10 lead on the second play of the third quarter. Natrone Brooks stepped in front of a Harris pass intended for Zakhari Franklin, picked it off and raced 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
But Harris’ second touchdown pass of the game, a 24-yarder to Leroy Watson on the final play of the third quarter, tied the score at 17. Harris was 17-for-30 for 227 yards and two touchdowns with the two interceptions.
–Field Level Media