The Roadrunners were underdogs at home to an explosive WKU offense led by the tremendous Bailey Zappe. The Runners knew they had to score a lot — they did in Bowling Green back in October — and put up 49 points in this one, scoring two touchdowns per quarter until the fourth frame. The Hilltoppers came out flaming, with a long TD score to start the game, but like two weeks ago against UAB, the Runners came back, took control, and won when it mattered.
There were 41,148 at the Alamodome to see the CUSA title game, the third largest crown in both school history, and CUSA title game history. The question, after being blown out last week by UNT, was if that was merely the team saving their juice for the title game, or the culmination of a slide. The oddsmakers thought WKU and their five-game win streak were the real deal and favored Zappe to put up big numbers in this one.
He did, and they did, but a second quarter that saw some bad snaps, missed field goals (two), and only three points scored put UTSA up 28 -13 at the half. Sincere McCormick ran wild throughout, and was the game’s MVP. The league asks for ballots at about the 9-minute mark of the fourth quarter 1 but it was clear that it was going to be either Bailey Zappe — he finished 36 of 59 for 577 and 4 scores against 2 INTs — and McCormick and his 36 carry, 204 yard 3 TD game. His 65-yard gallop in the first half and his 17- yard score in the third looked like the blowout scores that would end the WKU will.
The Hilltoppers were down 28-13, and then Harris’ toss to Franklin, and a subsequent McCormick run put them up 42-13. In between were a fumble by Jerreth Sterns, and an interception from Zappe.
The two guys that have carried the team put them in a bad spot.
UTSA finished put up 556 yards, 304 on the ground. Frank Harris had 218 yards and most of them came on the clutchest of plays: a TD to Clark, a TD to Franklin, a first down on 4th-and-3 to Franklin. He also ran for 81 on 11 carries and an early score.
The line on UTSA was that they had enough playmakers to make a play when it mattered. That was the case. Harris and his squad scored the right scores, got the right first downs, and even though they couldn’t quite put WKU out early, they got it done when it mattered.
For WKU, the slow end to the 2nd quarter and the awful start to the 3rd quarter will haunt the squad for the rest of the days. WKU had a TD to start, managed only FGs despite moving the ball well early and then skidded with missed FGs to end the half. The fumble and interception were gifts for a team happy to take full advantage. After that? Four straight touchdowns before the final heave into the south end zone and an interception to end things.
WKU’s defense allowed four straight TDs to UTSA, and started the half with a stop but then immediately gave it away again. They can look at some big stops late, but two issues will stand out: allowing UTSA to convert a 4th and 3 that ultimately led to a UTSA TD, and then late allowing a big first down.
This game was between two quality programs. Jeff Traylor said his program doesn’t play scared, and they were going to play aggressively as often as they could.
Baily Zappe was distraught, blamed himself for the interception and the missed execution. “We have one more game together and we have to give it our all”.
For Traylor, Harris and company “We are champions, and no one can take that away from us”.
These are all straight from the league:
- The C-USA Championship Game win by UTSA, 49-41 over WKU is the program’s first Conference USA title.
- Home teams are now 12-5 in Conference USA Championship Games, following UTSA’s 49-41 over WKU in San Antonio.
- Tonight’s attendance of 41,148 is the third-largest in both UTSA and Conference USA Championship Game History.
- C-USA Championship Game Most Valuable Player, UTSA RB Sincere McCormick, finished with 36 carries for 204 yards and three touchdowns.
- McCormick’s 65-yard touchdown run in the second half is the third-longest in C-USA Championship Game history behind just UCF’s Kevin Smith in 2007 (74) and East Carolina’s Norman Whitley in 2008 (69).
- McCormick’s 36 carries tie for second and his 204 yards rank third in C-USA Championship Game history.
- Tied with former WKU RB Anthony Wales for most carries (36) and third behind Wales in yardage (209), both of which were accomplished in 2016.
- The two teams combined for 1,124 yards of total offense and 90 points, each of which are second-most in C-USA Championship Game history.
- The records for both categories are from the 2016 game, where WKU beat Louisiana Tech 58-44 (102 total points) and they amassed 1,163 yards of total offense.
- UTSA LB Clarence Hicks now owns the program record for single-season sacks (10.0) with a team-high two on Friday.
- UTSA scored five rushing touchdowns as a team in Friday night’s win, which set a new C-USA Championship Game record.
- McCormick had three, while QB Frank Harris and RB Brenden Brady each added one apiece.
- UTSA’s 304 rushing yards as a team rank second-most in a C-USA Championship Game.
- UCF vs. Tulsa in 2007 – 308
- UTSA’s 54 rushing attempts as a team tie for third-most in a C-USA Championship Game.
- Tulsa vs. UCF in 2012 – 69
- Tulsa vs. East Carolina in 2008 – 55
- UAB vs. Middle Tennessee in 2018
- WKU QB Bailey Zappe completed 36-59 passes for 577 yards and four touchdowns in a losing effort. Zappe, the single-season record-holder for passing touchdowns in Conference USA history, is now just four touchdown passes shy of the FBS record of 60 passing touchdowns in a single season, held by Joe Burrow (2019).
- Zappe is now just 288 yards shy of B.J. Symons’ (Texas Tech) single-season FBS record for passing yardage (5,833), with a bowl game left on WKU’s schedule. He also became the sixth player in FBS history to reach over 5,000 yards/50 passing touchdowns in a season and broke Brandon Doughty’s WKU single-season program record for passing yards (5,055 in 2015)
- WKU WR Jerreth Sterns caught 10 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s C-USA Championship Game. His season totals are now 137 receptions for 1,178 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.
- Sterns now owns the single-season Conference USA record for receptions with 137, previously held by former Louisiana Tech WR Trent Taylor, who had 136 in 2016.
- WKU WRs Mitchell Tinsley and Jerreth Sterns each recorded a pair of receiving touchdowns on the night to tie the C-USA Championship Game record, which has been accomplished nine times by eight different players.
- Tinsley finished with nine catches for 173 yards and the two scores.
- WKU’s 568 yards of total offense rank third-most in C-USA Championship Game history, and UTSA’s 556 rank fifth.
- WKU vs. Louisiana Tech in 2016 – 656
- Florida Atlantic vs. UAB in 2019 – 585
- WKU at UTSA in 2021 – 568
- Houston vs. East Carolina in 2009 – 557
- UTSA vs. WKU in 2021 – 556
- UTSA’s 49 points scored tie for second-most in C-USA Championship Game history.
- WKU vs. Louisiana Tech in 2016 – 58
- UTSA vs. WKU in 2021 – 49
- Florida Atlantic vs. UAB in 2019 – 49
- Southern Miss vs. Houston in 2011 – 49
- The Roadrunners’ seven touchdowns tie for the most in C-USA Championship Game history.
- UTSA vs. WKU in 2021 – 7
- Florida Atlantic vs. UAB in 2019 – 7
- WKU vs. Louisiana Tech in 2016 – 7
- Southern Miss vs. Houston in 2011 – 7
- UTSA held WKU to -9 rushing yards, which is a C-USA Championship Game record.
- The previous record was held by WKU vs. Louisiana Tech in 2016 (five yards).
a practice that a lot of games/leagues stick to ↩