UTSA has its first conference championship in school history.
The Roadrunners (12-1) jumped out to a 42-13 lead over Western Kentucky and then hung on for a 49-41 win for the Conference USA title on Friday night. RB Sincere McCormick had 36 carries for 206 yards and three touchdowns and QB Frank Harris threw two touchdowns and ran for another.
Western Kentucky (8-5) was able to get the ball back with 1:05 left and no timeouts but didn't get close to the end zone. Bailey Zappe's Hail Mary as time expired was picked off short of the end zone. WKU entered the game on a seven-game win streak after starting the season 1-4.
UTSA put the game away with just over six minutes to go when Harris found De’Corian Clark for a fantastic 28-yard TD catch. That TD put UTSA up two scores after Western Kentucky had cut the lead to 42-34 and effectively put the game out of reach.
WKU had a chance to cut the lead to a score just after halftime. UTSA led 28-13 at the half and punted on the first possession of the third quarter. But WKU’s Jerreth Sterns fumbled the punt and Harris hit Zakhari Franklin for a TD pass two plays later and a 35-13 lead.
The win caps a remarkable rise for UTSA. The Roadrunners went 3-9 and 4-8 in the final two seasons of Frank Wilson’s tenure in 2018 and 2019. Jeff Traylor was hired to replace him and UTSA improved three games to 7-5 in 2020 and made the team’s second bowl appearance.
This season, UTSA has won more than eight games in a season for the first time in program history and a bowl game against a solid opponent should be a fitting reward.
The 2021 season is just the 11th of the program’s existence. UTSA played 10 games in its first season in 2011 with former Miami head coach Larry Coker in charge. The team won eight games in 2012 as a transitional member into the top level of college football and joined Conference USA ahead of the 2013 season.
Coker resigned after the 2014 season and was replaced by Wilson. The school went to its first bowl game after going 6-6 in 2015 and lost 23-20 to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl.