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FRISCO, Texas (AP) Redshirt freshman Owen McCown recovered from a shaky beginning to his first start of the year to complete 22 of 31 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns as UTSA rallied from a 14-0 deficit to beat Marshall 35-17 in the Frisco Bowl on Tuesday night.

Robert Henry had touchdown runs of 3 yards and 1 yard and Rocko Griffin one for 17 yards for UTSA (9-4), which won a bowl game for the first time following four bowl losses including in each of the previous three seasons.

Joshua Cephus caught a 44-yard TD pass and David Amador II caught one for 19 yards.

Marshall (6-7) lost seven of its final nine games to finish with its first losing season since 2016.

One play into the second period, UTSA trailed 14-0, had been outgained 114 yards to 16, had one first down, two interceptions thrown and three punts.

“The grit of that team, to be down 14 to nothing - I bet if all the Roadrunner fans were honest, a bunch of ’em were probably ready to give up,” UTSA coach Jeff Traylor said. “Those kids just won’t ever go away.”

McCown, a transfer who started three games for Colorado last year, stepped in after senior Frank Harris, who recorded 39 wins in 51 starts over seven years in the program, was declared out about an hour before kickoff because of a shoulder injury suffered in UTSA’s previous game on Nov. 24.

Traylor said the staff and players knew 3 1/2 weeks ago that Harris wouldn’t play, the pain from the injury preventing him from practicing.

“Our team didn’t tell a soul,” Traylor said. “It was the best kept secret ever in the history of San Antonio I would imagine. He tried. He wanted to play more than life itself.

“He prepared Owen all week. He’s as much the reason we won as anybody.”

Marshall coach Charles Huff said his team was prepared to see a quarterback other than Harris.

“We had a little bit of a library of what (McCown) has done over the last couple of years,” Huff said. “We felt it really didn’t matter who the quarterback was. They would do what they did well.”

UTSA was already without sophomore linebacker Trey Moore, the AAC defensive player of the year, who announced on Dec. 5 that he would enter the transfer portal. And the Roadrunners lost standout safety Rashad Wisdom with a broken arm.

With 102 receiving yards on Tuesday, Cephus set a school record with 1,151 this season.

The Thundering Herd also played without the quarterback who led them most of the season. Sophomore Cam Fancher, who started 10 games, announced on Dec. 6 that he’d entered the transfer portal. Redshirt freshman Cole Pennington, who made two starts, passed for 258 yards but was sacked six times.

Ethan Payne’s 1-yard touchdown run following the first of McCown’s two first-quarter interceptions and a 64-yard touchdown run by Rasheen Ali on the first play of the second quarter put Marshall ahead 14-0.

Marshall’s Rece Verhoff kicked a 44-yard field goal.

McCown and Pennington are the sons of former NFL quarterbacks Josh McCown and Chad Pennington.


Marshall: It was a tumultuous season for the Herd. A 4-0 start was followed by a five-game losing streak, two changes of quarterbacks and the firing of four assistant coaches before the bowl game.

UTSA: The Roadrunners were one win short of playing SMU for the AAC championship in their first season in the conference - and SMU’s departure from the league.


Marshall: Will open the 2024 season at home vs. Stony Brook on Aug. 31 before visiting Virginia Tech and Ohio State.

UTSA: Hosts Kennesaw State on Aug. 31.


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