COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Harris, UTPB offense ready for new challenge against West Texas A&M

UTPB’s offense is leading the nation in scoring and one of the players at the forefront has been redshirt sophomore running back Kory Harris.

Through the first three games of the season, Harris has rushed for 185 yards from 36 carries and has scored three touchdowns, leading the Falcons’ ground game.

UTPB’s offense has put up 209 total points so far this season, breaking the school record for points in a game twice already in 2023 as the team defeated Texas College 96-0 to open the season and defeated Southwest Baptist 86-7 last week in Bolivar, Mo.

For anyone wondering, the second-leading scoring offense in the country in NCAA Division II is Quincy at 172.

Harris and his teammates hope to keep up the early-season success when UTPB begins Lone Star Conference play with a 6 p.m. game Saturday against West Texas A&M (2-1 overall, 1-0 in conference) at Astound Broadband Stadium in Midland.

“The confidence is high,” Harris said. “We feel like we can do anything against anybody. It doesn’t matter who it is. We have everyone that can score and do anything.”

Harris was quick to give a shout out to his offensive linemen who have helped pave the way for UTPB’s offensive success.

“If we didn’t have an O-line like we do, we wouldn’t be as successful,” Harris said. “Without those guys, I wouldn’t be able to score. That O-line has been able to carry us. I feel like with an O-line like that, no one is stopping us.”

But it doesn’t stop and end with the Falcons’ offensive line or running backs.

Fifth-year quarterback Kenny Hrncir has gone 56-of-99 for 880 yards already this season with 11 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

His favorite target has been wide receiver Laguan Wells who has 12 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns while Jeremiah Cooley has 10 receptions for 158 yards and four touchdowns.

“Our whole offense is elite, from the running backs to the quarterbacks to the O-line and receivers,” Harris said. “We can all make plays and do our thing. Once we get in a groove, nothing can stop us.”

After a quick start to the season, UTPB (2-1) came up short in a 35-27 loss to Western Colorado on Sept. 9 before the Falcons responded by scoring over 80 points in last week’s road victory.

Entering the season, the Falcons were coming off a 5-6, 4-5 showing from last year.

After a coaching change that saw Kris McCullough come in from East Central University, there have been a lot of other changes made to the program.

For Harris, the biggest difference between this year and last year, besides the regime change, is the team chemistry.

“I feel like everyone here is a real family member,” Harris said. “I can count on anyone. They’re real brothers. I feel like we’ve all bought in. Coach has preached being a family and we’ve also been able to get points on the board on the field.”

The Falcons are hopeful that bond can help carry the team even further this season as they look to get their second win over West Texas A&M in program history.

UTPB’s only win against the Buffaloes came in a 42-31 victory in 2021.

Last year, the Falcons lost at the last second to West Texas A&M as a Gage Urias field goal gave the Buffaloes a 28-27 win in Canyon.

Harris and his teammates haven’t forgotten about that.

“Last year, they had us at the end of the game and got the W,” Harris said. “This year, it’s revenge. We’re going to go out and give it our all. It’s all about who wants it more.”

He knows it won’t be easy as West Texas A&M enters this week’s game on a two-game winning streak, having beaten Midwestern State, 23-0, last week and Adams State, 28-7, the week before.

The Buffaloes’ only loss of the season came in Week 1 against Western Colorado in a 28-6 contest.

“We have to have a dog mentality going up against West Texas A&M,” Harris said. “They have a great coaching staff and great players and a great defense. They have dogs and we have dogs. We just have to go in and be a dog and play hard and be fast.”

The Buffaloes are coached by first year head coach Josh Lynn as West Texas A&M tries to turn things around after going 5-6, 3-6 in 2022.

After two long road trips, Harris is happy to have a home game, especially after being on the bus for 14 hours last week on the way to Bolivar, Mo.

“It feels good,” Harris said. “That 14-hour bus ride was not it. I did not want to be on that bus any longer. It feels good to be at home against West Texas A&M and play in front of a home crowd.”