Whether it was losing three fumbles early with a slick ball or playing a hot opponent a week after staying perfect on a last-second touchdown, UTSA coach Jeff Traylor sensed the odds getting worse.
North Texas backs DeAndre Torrey and Ikaika Ragsdale combined for five touchdowns while UTSA quarterback Frank Harris had two turnovers and didn’t play after halftime in the Mean Green’s 45-23 rout of the Roadrunners.
I think human nature is we probably weren’t as juiced up as we were last week, Traylor said, referring to a 34-31 victory over UAB. But it wasn’t like a bad effort. They were at a 10 and we probably played at an eight. And you turn it over three times in the weather, you’re going to get embarrassed, which we did today.
UTSA, which never started with more than five consecutive wins in the program’s first nine FBS seasons, is still hosting the conference championship game Friday night against Western Kentucky, which beat Marshall 53-21 with the East Division’s spot on the line.
Nobody wanted to go undefeated more than we did, Traylor said. So that hurts terribly bad. But we still have everything to still play for.
The Roadrunners, ranked 10th nationally in rushing defense, had given up six touchdowns on the ground all season. North Texas matched that late in the third quarter of a fifth consecutive victory that followed a six-game losing streak.
The Mean Green earned bowl eligibility in the first game involving a Top 25 team at their 10-year-old stadium.
This is the biggest win I’ve had and we’ve had as a program, said sixth-year coach Seth Littrell, whose future was in question when his team was 1-6. Just a ranked opponent coming in here and us needing that win to get bowl eligible.
Ragsdale, a redshirt freshman, had a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns as North Texas’ conference-leading rushing offense finished with 340 yards a week after UTSA allowed its previous season high of 220 in a last-second victory over UAB.
The Roadrunners were called for pass interference on their first defensive play, fumbled the kickoff after North Texas drove to an opening field goal and muffed two punts, losing possession on the first. UTSA had six fumbles overall.
Harris’ 69-yard touchdown run pulled UTSA within 17-13 in the second quarter, but the senior later lost a fumble when he dropped the slick ball trying to make a quick throw on third down. Torrey’s dazzling 19-yard score came two plays later as part of 28 consecutive points for UNT.
Josh Adkins replaced Harris to start the second half, but the Roadrunners were hopelessly behind before the offense finally got moving again on a 56-yard run by Brenden Brady early in the fourth quarter.