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Football drops C-USA title game versus Texas-San Antonio

Football drops C-USA title game versus Texas-San Antonio

Football drops C-USA title game versus Texas-San Antonio
December 03
17:21 2022

Football fell to the University of Texas-San Antonio 48-27 in the Conference USA Championship game Friday night.

The Roadrunners (11-2, 8-0 C-USA) remain C-USA Champions in their last year before joining the American Athletic Conference along with North Texas (7-6, 6-2 C-USA). Senior Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, posting 341 yards and four touchdowns while completing 86 percent of his passes.

“You have got to give a lot of credit to [head coach Jeff Traylor] and [Texas-San Antonio],” head coach Seth Littrell said. “[The loss] does not take away how proud I am of our guys [and] how hard they work [and] the culture they built. There [are] a lot of hurt guys in that locker room and it crushes me, but they are family.”

Harris completed all five of his passes on Texas-San Antonio’s opening drive that ended in seven points for the Roadrunners. North Texas responded with a hurry-up touchdown drive of its own capped off by a 2-yard rush from sophomore running back Ikaika Ragsdale on fourth and goal. Ragsdale led the Mean Green in rushing with 108 yards and a touchdown.

The Roadrunners were without senior running back Brenden Brady, who has 699 rushing yards on the season. Redshirt freshman Kevorian Barnes rushed 28 times for 175 yards and a touchdown in Brady’s absence. 

Following a Texas-San Antonio field goal, North Texas took 35 seconds off the clock and went three-and-out, giving the Roadrunners one more possession before the half. Harris took advantage of the opportunity, finding senior receiver Zakhari Franklin for a 32-yard touchdown reception with 11 seconds left in the first half. Franklin caught three of Harris’ four touchdown passes and tallied 144 yards on 10 catches.

“They got a lot of momentum,” junior quarterback Austin Aune said. “Offensively we need to come up with touchdowns, and we got field goals. With a good team like that we needed to take advantage of scoring and making more plays.”

Aune completed a 36-yard touchdown reception to junior receiver Jyaire Shorter in the third quarter, giving Aune the school record for most passing touchdowns in a season with 32. Aune passes the record set by Mason Fine in 2017, the only other year North Texas has made the C-USA Championship game. Aune finished the contest with 194 yards and two interceptions.

“The goal of coming back for another year was not to break any records, it was to get [the] conference championship [and] get a bowl championship,” Aune said. “We still [have] one opportunity to do that.”

One of those picks came on the first play of a North Texas drive with 10:57 left in the fourth quarter. Beginning on the Mean Green 19, Aune threw deep across midfield for redshirt freshman receiver Zhighlil McMillan but it was caught by redshirt junior safety Ken Robinson at the Texas-San Antonio 31-yard line.

“[We were] running out of time, so we were trying to take a shot on first down,” Littrell said. “You have to take care of the football. Some of that you can control, but when [we were] pressing there at the end trying to go back and forth, [we] did not make the play when we needed to.”

Senior linebacker KD Davis also broke a program record for most career tackles with 421. Davis exceeds the previous mark of 418 set by Byron Gross set from 1987-1990.

“Tonight the main thing was bringing a trophy home, and it did not happen,” Davis said. “That is the main focus, but [breaking the record] is great for me.”

The team will have to wait until Sunday to find out which bowl game they will play in and who their opponent will be. 

“You do not get the opportunities very much, and when you get here you want to take advantage of the opportunities,” Aune said. “It hurts not to get it. Proud of our team and proud of how we got here, it was not [an] easy path.”

Image Credit: Tony Morano/Conference USA

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James Carroll

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