SAN ANTONIO – All coaches need a signature victory that define their program.
UTSA football coach Frank Wilson may have gotten his Saturday night when the Roadrunners, starting just their seventh season, knocked off struggling Baylor 17-10 in Waco.
The victory was the first against a Power 5 opponent for UTSA, which kicked off the season a week late after their scheduled opener last Sept. 2 was canceled in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Wilson is certain to have bigger victories in the future, but none will be more significant than the one he got against Baylor to start his second season with the Roadrunners.
“So many people contributed to this historic win,” Wilson tweeted after the game. “Congrats to the current and former UTSA family. Together We can. Together We Did!
The Bears have stumbled out to an 0-2 start, but it was only three years ago that they finished 11-2 for the second consecutive season under coach Art Briles.
Briles was fired in May 2016 after a lengthy investigation raised questions about Baylor’s handling of sexual-assault allegations made against some members of the school’s football team.
The Bears finished 7-6 under interim coach Jim Grobe last season, but have yet to win under Matt Rhule, who was hired as Baylor’s head coach last December. Rhule was head coach at Temple for four seasons before being hired at Baylor.
The Bears started the season last week with a 48-45 loss to Liberty University, which competes in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA.
That UTSA beat a Big 12 opponent, even if it was against slumping Baylor, represents a big step for a program that has grown up quickly since the Roadrunners’ first season in 2011. The Roadrunners went into the game 0-9 against Power 5 teams.
“It feels amazing,” senior quarterback Dalton Sturm said. “We've been working towards it. Got a big game week one that got canceled. There's a lot of, I don't know, guys that were just ready to be let loose, you know. So, we came out here today and we didn't play to the best of our ability but we played good enough.
“Now it's just about coming back and working, just working some of the kinks out. First game's always kind of rough. Got some rust on everybody. But just proud of our guys the way we fought through all the adversity we had and we were able to come out with a win.”
Something sophomore linebacker Josiah Tauaefa told reporters after a workout last week turned out to be prophetic.
Asked what he thought after Liberty upset the Bears, Tauaefa said: “That was an awesome game. That just goes to show that big names don’t always mean everything. It’s about how you prepare leading up to the week, and it’s the mindset going into the game. As long as we do our job, then we’ve got a chance.”
Tired of beating on each other at practice since early August and “chomping at the bit” to start the season after last week’s postponement, the Roadrunners let out their pent-up frustration against Baylor. They held the Bears to their lowest scoring total in seven season years, and outgained the home team 375-274. Baylor’s point total was its lowest since a 45-10 loss to TCU on Sept. 18, 2010.
The UTSA defense, led by junior safeties Carl Austin and C.J. Levine, senior end Marcus Davenport and senior safety Nate Gaines, finished with four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Austin had a team-high six tackles, including 2.5 for loss.
“Defense did a hell of a job,” Davenport said. “They really had our backs the entire game. So, that's always a big plus. We always know we can count on them.”
A Stevens graduate, Davenport had three tackles, including a sack that made him the program's career leader with 14.5, and Gaines had his fifth career interception. Levine finished with five tackles and a pass breakup.
“I'm happy,” Davenport said. “I know we need to improve. I know I need to improve. So, now we just get back to the drawing board, preparing for next week.”
Sturm and junior running back Jalen Rhodes turned in outstanding performances. Sturm racked up 253 yards of total offense, completing 15 of 20 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns, and finishing with a career-high 98 yards rushing.
Rhodes finished with 103 yards on 20 carries, recording his second 100-yard career game. Rhodes became the UTSA’s starting running back after Jarveon Williams, the Roadrunners’ career rushing leader, completed his eligibility last season.
Larry Coker, who guided Miami to a national championship in 2001, was UTSA’s head coach through the Roadrunners’ first five seasons. He was fired in January 2016 and succeeded by Wilson, an assistant coach at LSU for six seasons before landing is first college head-coaching job.
UTSA plays Southern in its home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. The Jaguars are 1-1 after losing to Southern Miss 45-0 on Saturday. Southern Miss and UTSA are both in the West Division of Conference USA.