Memphis Tigers receiver Calvin Austin III breaks into the endzone on a 25-yard catch against Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021.


Calvin Austin III, Memphis seek encore performance vs. UT-San Antonio

Memphis will see if receiver Calvin Austin III can provide an encore against the visiting and fellow undefeated UT-San Antonio in a nonconference game on Saturday.

Austin led the charge against the Mississippi State last week by scoring three second-half touchdowns in a span of 15:30 to help the Tigers (3-0) overcome a 17-7 halftime deficit to pull out a 31-29 win.

Memphis, a member of the American Athletic Conference, won despite allowing 419 yards and three touchdowns passing by quarterback Will Rogers. But the defense came up big when needed, stopping Rogers’ two-point conversion run with 1:32 left to secure the win.

Austin caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Seth Henigan with 6:20 left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 17-14 before his 25-yard scoring reception with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter gave the Tigers a 21-17 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The next time he touched the ball, a little more than two minutes later, he returned a punt 94 yards for a 28-17 lead.

Memphis is seeking its second 4-0 start in the past three seasons.

The Tigers will rely heavily on their three-headed monster of Henigan (841 yards passing, eight TDs, one interception), running back Brandon Thomas, who is averaging more than eight yards per carry, having rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns on 50 attempts, and Austin, who has 21 catches for 391 yards and six scores.

“Memphis is probably the first team that we’ll play that has more team speed than we do,” Roadrunners coach Jeff Traylor told reporters. “They’ve won 17 games at home in a row and just beat an SEC team. We know no one is going to pick us being on the road, on ESPN and a nationally televised game with two 3-0 teams. It sounds like fun to me.”

The Roadrunners (3-0), who are seeking their first 4-0 start since 2012, have outscored the opposition 118-43 after knocking off visiting Middle Tennessee 27-13 in both teams’ Conference USA opener last Saturday. Frank Harris went 24-of-39 passing for 264 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for UTSA.

“We understand the type of game this is: You have two undefeated teams facing off,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield told reporters. “We’ve got to find a way to get better this week because they’re going to give us everything we want and more.”

Harris has thrown for 662 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions this season, while Sincere McCormick has rushed for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Zakhari Franklin has 22 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns.

The Roadrunners had five sacks and nine tackles during a dominating performance in which they limited Middle Tennessee State (1-2) to eight yards rushing, 11 first downs and 199 total yards of offense.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  UTSA Roadrunners running back Sincere McCormick (3) is tackled by Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Roderick Perry II (96) in the first half of Saturday   s game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

UT-San Antonio upends Illinois, 37-30

Frank Harris passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, Brenden Brady added two rushing touchdowns, and UT-San Antonio held on for a 37-30 win over host Illinois on Saturday night.

UTSA (1-0) never trailed and finished with a 497-412 advantage in total yards. Top running back Sincere McCormick finished with 31 carries for 117 yards for the Roadrunners, and Brady had 11 carries for 67 yards.

Artur Sitkowski completed 22 of 42 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns for Illinois (1-1). Daniel Barker hauled in two touchdown passes and Deuce Spann caught one.

Illinois closed the gap to 30-27 with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Sitkowski to Barker with 9:56 remaining.

Brady silenced the home crowd with a 33-yard touchdown run that made it 37-27 with 4:57 remaining. He burst through the line of scrimmage and sprinted into the end zone untouched.

A 32-yard field goal by Illinois kicker James McCourt cut the deficit to 37-30 with 1:55 to go. Illinois got the ball back in the final minutes but its comeback bid came up short.

UTSA led 20-14 at halftime.

The Roadrunners opened the scoring with 1:32 left in the first quarter. Harris tucked the ball and rushed 9 yards for a touchdown.

Brady increased UTSA’s lead to 14-0 with a 7-yard run early in the second quarter.

Illinois sliced the deficit to 14-7 on the next possession. Sitkowski connected with Spann for a 31-yard score.

After a field goal put UTSA ahead 17-7, Illinois tallied another touchdown through the air. Sitkowski fired a 14-yard pass to Barker to pull the Fighting Illini within 17-14.

A 28-yard field goal by Hunter Duplessis gave UTSA a 20-14 lead with 47 seconds left in the half.

The Fighting Illini pulled within 20-17 with 9:22 remaining in the third quarter. McCourt drilled a field goal from 52 yards.

UTSA responded with a 27-yard field goal, the third by Duplessis, to go ahead 23-17 with 3:19 to go in the third quarter.

McCourt hit from long distance once again, this time from 53 yards, to make it 23-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Harris completed his first touchdown pass to put UTSA on top 30-20 with 12:37 remaining. Zakhari Franklin caught the 19-yard score.

–Field Level Media