UTSA celebrates a 17-10 victory against Baylor. Chase Otero, The Paisano.

UTSA took the field in their crisp, all-white uniforms as the setting sun fell over the historic Brazos river behind McLane Stadium. After UTSA’s season opener against Houston was cancelled due to flooding from Hurricane Harvey, the time had finally come for the Roadrunners to kick off their much-anticipated 2017 football season.

To start their season off on the right foot, UTSA would have to take down the well-known Baylor Bears on their home turf in Waco. UTSA came into the game as 17-point underdogs. Having just lost to a relatively unknown FCS opponent in Liberty, Baylor was looking to avoid a second straight upset and an 0-2 start to their season.

Baylor’s quick-tempo offense put pressure on UTSA early on, and on their second drive they advanced close to UTSA territory. However, UTSA safety Nate Gaines came up with a huge interception to stop Baylor’s drive and give the ‘Runners the ball back right around the 50-yard line. After the interception, UTSA drove down to the Baylor 30-yard line before they were stopped on a long third down. UTSA kicker Victor Falcon came out to attempt a career long 47-yard field goal, but it was blocked by the Baylor special teams unit and UTSA was unable to take advantage of the turnover. The score remained 0-0.

With under three minutes to go in the first quarter, Baylor drove the ball inside UTSA’s 30-yard line. However, a holding penalty and a clutch sack by UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport pinned the Bears back near the 43-yard line and once again, they were forced to punt the ball away.

With neither offense able to make anything happen early on, the first quarter ended with a deadlocked score of 0-0.

UTSA had possession of the ball to begin the 2nd quarter and moved the ball effectively down into Baylor territory. Once inside the 30-yard line, the Baylor defense came alive and forced a 4th down. Instead of electing for a field goal, UTSA decided to go for it, and the short pass play to Jalen Rhodes was blown up for a loss of yards. Baylor took over on their own 22-yard line. 

With nine minutes to go in the second quarter, The UTSA defense stepped up once again and forced Baylor to punt. However, UTSA muffed the punt, and Baylor recovered the ball inside the red-zone. On the very next play, Baylor quarterback Anu Solomon connected with wide receiver Denzel Mims on a 20-yard pass in the corner of the end zone. With that, Baylor took a 7-0 lead over UTSA midway through the 2nd quarter.

UTSA would go to work immediately after as they methodically drove the ball down the field. After picking up a couple of huge third down conversions, the ‘Runners found themselves knocking on the door of the end-zone. On a third down and goal, quarterback Dalton Sturm hit Joshua Stewart for the score from seven yards out. The play capped a 16-play drive, and tied the game at 7-7 going into halftime.

Dalton Sturm scrambles for a big gain.

The Roadrunners got the ball to start the 2nd half and wasted no time extending their lead. Quarterback Dalton Sturm took off on a 40-yard scramble into Baylor territory, and on the very next play, Sturm hit receiver Kerry Thomas for a 29-yard touchdown pass. That would push their lead to 14-7 early in the third quarter.

As the time in the third quarter winded down, Baylor was threatening near the UTSA 20-yard line. On a 4th down and short, they elected to go for it, and the Roadrunner defense came up with a huge stop to get the ball back and protect the lead. The small section of UTSA fans erupted into cheers, but the rest of McLane stadium fell unusually silent. UTSA kept their seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

As the fourth quarter got underway, UTSA was stopped on a third down and short but came up with three points off a Victor Falcon 38-yard field goal. This extended their lead to ten and made the contest a two-possession game with a score of 17-7.

With under three minutes to go in the game, the UTSA defense stopped Baylor inside the red-zone and forced a field goal attempt. The kick was good, and with that, the score was now 17-10 going into crunch time.

After UTSA went a quick three and out, Baylor gained possession of the ball with two minutes to go and down by one touchdown. The game was suddenly in the hands of the UTSA defense, and they’d been stellar all-night long. The Baylor offense never had a chance. On a 4th down and 10, a desperate Solomon tried to escape the pressure and scramble out of the pocket but was met by linebacker Josiah Tauaefa who drove him to the turf as he released a wild pass that fell incomplete.

UTSA then kneeled the ball a few times to run out the clock and secured their first ever victory over a power 5 team.

A stadium that is usually filled with “Sic ‘em” chants heard the “U-T….S-A” shouts instead echoing throughout the corridors of McLane Stadium. Baylor fans quietly made their way to the exits disappointed and perhaps concerned for their future as their beloved Bears have started their season 0-2.

For UTSA, it was a promising start to the season. The defense held a high-powered Baylor offense to their lowest point total in seven years, but defensive end Marcus Davenport still didn’t think it was their best effort.

“I know we need to improve, and I know I need to improve,” he said.

Davenport also became UTSA’s all-time sack leader when he dropped Solomon in the backfield in the first quarter giving him 14.5 sacks in his Roadrunner career. “I wasn’t even thinking about that,” said Davenport about his achievement. “I’m just happy my team got the win.”

UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm was solid all night as he threw for 155 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions while also adding 98 yards rushing. The dual threat of Sturm had the Baylor defense on their toes all night long.

“It feels amazing,” Sturm said about the win. “We’ve really been working towards it, and we didn’t play to the best of our ability, but we played good enough to get the win.”

Aside from the 98 rushing yards Sturm put up, running back Jalen Rhodes had 20 carries for 103 yards on the ground. He couldn’t get a touchdown to add to his performance, but his average of five yards a carry wore down the Baylor’s defensive line. He looked impressive in his senior season debut.

After being predicted to lose by 17, UTSA stunned Baylor and college football fans around the nation by pulling off the unlikely victory. On unfamiliar turf, the ‘Runners handed Baylor their second straight upset en-route to a 1-0 start to the season.

UTSA looked impressive on both sides of the ball Saturday night, and now it looks as if their ceiling is even higher. They were forced to start their season a week late, but the 2017 UTSA football season has finally arrived, and it’s off to a great start.

UTSA football will play their home opener this Saturday Sept. 16 against Southern University. After the big win, the Alamodome should be filled with blue and orange as the ‘Runners look for their second straight victory.

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