Jeff Huehn

Roadrunners outlast UTEP in conference opener

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SAN ANTONIO — UTSA quarterback Cordale Grundy threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Roadrunners to a 30-21 victory over UTEP in the Conference USA opener for both teams on Saturday night at the Alamodome.

Grundy completed 20-of-35 passes for 187 yards and two scores and the junior quarterback rushed for 44 yards and a score to help the Roadrunners improve to 2-3 on the year and 1-0 in league play. It also marked the first time the home team won in the series, which UTSA now leads, 4-2.

Greg Campbell Jr. hauled in four passes for a game-high 61 yards, while Kirk Johnson Jr. and Jalen Rhodes also had four receptions each.

Meanwhile, linebackers Josiah Tauaefa and Les Maruo posted eight tackles apiece to lead a UTSA defense that limited the Miners (0-5) to 278 yards of offense, the second straight opponent that failed to gain 300. DeQuarius Henry added six stops, including two for loss, a sack and a forced fumble, while Clayton Johnson had two tackles, one TFL, an interception and a pass breakup.

The Roadrunners built a 24-7 halftime lead, only to see UTEP climb back to within three points in the fourth quarter.

UTEP trimmed the UTSA lead to 10 points after David Lucero hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kai Locksley with 5:26 left in the third quarter.

Quardraiz Wadley's 3-yard TD scamper early in the fourth quarter then helped pull the Miners to within 24-21.

Jared Sackett drilled a 39-yard field goal with 9:49 remaining to push the lead back out to six.

After the two teams traded punts, UTEP got the ball back with 4:36 on the clock but UTSA's defense came up with a fourth-down stop to help set up Sackett's third field goal of the night, this one from 47 yards to seal the win.

Locksley led the Miners with 106 yards rushing and a score on 24 carries and 117 yards passing and a TD on 10 completions.

UTEP took advantage of a muffed punt midway through the first quarter and marched 43 yards on seven plays, the last a 3-yard quarterback keeper by Locksley into the end zone that put the visitors on the board first.

Late in the opening stanza, UTSA recovered a muffed punt of its own when Andrew Martel came up with the loose ball at the UTEP 7-yard line. On the next play, Grundy rolled to his right and found paydirt. Sackett's extra point knotted the score at 7-7.

The Roadrunners took their first lead of the night when Grundy found Carter McCarthy wide open in the flat for a 9-yard TD pass with 10:49 left until halftime. The sophomore tight end's first touchdown catch in a UTSA uniform capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive that took 3:23 off the clock.

Later in the second quarter, UTSA again came up with a turnover and converted it into points. Johnson stepped in front of a Locksley pass at the UTEP 20 for the junior cornerback's second interception in as many weeks. Two plays later, Tykee Ogle-Kellogg hauled in a 15-yard pass from Grundy on the sideline in the end zone to put the home team up by two scores.

Sackett connected on a career-long 51-yard field goal — tied for the second longest in program history — as time expired in the first half to give UTSA a 24-7 lead.

The Roadrunners will travel to Houston to face Rice (1-4, 0-1) next Saturday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Rice Stadium and the game will air on ESPN3.