It was Friday morning, less than 12 hours to kick-off and excitement filled the air. Fans, coaches and players were awake, anxiously tweeting away. UTSA diehards were loading up in San Antonio and starting the 3 hour trek to Houston, while others, like myself, new to the Houston area, were gathering supplies, double checking lists, and putting attaching the UTSA car flag, making sure everything was on par and ready for the huge matchup! This was the inaugural game in University of Houston’s newly built stadium, named after a local credit union, TDECU.
I got to the stadium at 4. 4 hours til the slated 8pm kick off. The stadium lights were on, and traffic was heavy. I pulled in, and was greeted by a huge sea of red shirts on Houston fans. They were loud, energetic, boisterous, and some had already made their way to be one of the first into the stadium when it opened at 6. Not to be outdone, UTSA fans travel very well, and I stopped by to say hello to the thousands of Roadrunner fans enjoying pregame festivities. I turned to the road, and saw 5 buses drive right past me, loaded with the UTSA football team. I proudly put up my ‘Runner hand sign, and cheered them on as they turned and entered the stadium grounds. Behind the dark tinted glass of the buses, I could see them saluting back and I was instantly pumped. This game was going to be epic.
Turns out, “epic” might have been an understatement.
The crowd was loud and on their feet as the two teams took the field. UTSA defered to Houston, and the game started. After nerves settled and their feet got comfortable on the newly laid turf, things went well for UTSA. The Cougars fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Jens Jeters. No score came from it however. Houston fumbled again on their next drive, and it was recovered by Dalton Miller on the 3 yd line. UTSA immediately found the end zone and put up 7 with 6:50 on the clock in the 1st quarter. UH fans were shocked and in dismay. UTSA held Houston to negative rushing yards by the end of the 1st quarter.
Low and behold, during Houston’s first drive of the 2nd quarter, Wade intercepted a pass from Houston’s QB!! UTSA couldn’t get it past the 50, and punted it away.
I couldn’t believe it! Houston QB’s 1st pass was intercepted! This time by Crosby Adams III. UTSA’s drive did not yield a touchdown, and was again punted away by Stern. The next 2 drives ended in negative yards for both teams. It is worth noting that by this time, Houston fans have grown quiet. They seemed stunned, shocked that UTSA was winning, with every tick of the clock!
After what must’ve been a VERY good pep talk in the locker room, Carter and Company came out, guns a-blazing! Carter was smooth, confident, and the team was working very well together. Jarveon Williams caught the kickoff and returned it to their own 40. After back to back to back rushes, the ball got to Houston’s 26 via Glasco II and Williams. After one more pass and another rush by Williams, UTSA had another 7 points on the board with Ianno’s kick. That’s right, boys and girls! It was 21-0, UTSA!!
With 8:07 left on the clock, in the 3rd quarter, Houston started their play at their own 26 yd line. O’Korn made two passes, one incomplete.. . Then BOOM, a deep pass that resulted in ANOTHER UTSA interception, by Bennett Okotcha! I clearly started to hear collective sighs of disbelief, and loud grunts. UTSA was playing like a well oiled machine. UH, on the other hand, was playing like a bunch of breast-fed, kept-in-a-bubble kids that got overpowered and intimidated, but didn’t want to scream ‘Uncle’.
UTSA started their drive after the interception at Houston’s 45. After several rushes by Glasco II and Williams, the ball was on Houston’s 9yd line. Sean Ianno kicked another successful field goal, bringing the score to 24-0, UTSA, with the clock at 1:15 left in the 3rd. At this point, I saw a mass exodus of red shirts leaving the brand new stadium. The trash talkers had become quiet, as disappointed fans were surely going to try and beat the traffic and sob privately. Like a defeated, beat-up barn cat, UTSA held the Cougars to a negative 3 yards, with a huge amount of time on the clock, 0:54 in the 3rd.
During Houston’s next chance at the ball, with 12:54in the 4th, QB O’Korn dropped the ball deep in UTSA territory. HE DROPPED THE BALL. He recovered it himself, but this single action summed up Houston’s whole night.
“They. Dropped. The. Ball.” They disappointed fans. They should’ve had a much better game. They should’ve won. UTSA was an underdog with a Vegas spread of 10pts. Immediately, O’Korn threw the ball deep, and it was intercepted, again by UTSA, this time at the hands of Sanchez. Nothing became of it.
Houston’s next drive results in the 6th turnover of the night, by Dalquist. UTSA’s ball with 9:05 left in 4th. The next score came at 4:04 in the 4th, when Ianno kicked another 3points, bringing the score to 27-0.
Well, guess what?! UH finally scored 7 points, with a mere 1:04 left on the board. They finally got to send 6 + 1 fireworks shooting in to the air. This says they didn’t get shut out, and completely shut down, in their inaugural game, but was still too little, too late. Girls are sobbing. Profusely. So are guys. So are elderly people who played on the inaugural team for Houston (which was wayyy before UTSA existed as a college institution). In front of 40,755 fans, UTSA stole the show and broke their hearts. UTSA dominated, and Houston couldn’t deal with the pressure. UTSA christened the stadium. UTSA walked away with the first win in this new stadium’s history, where it was not welcomed. For at least that night, TDECU Stadium was renamed TDUTSA, and the Cougars’ famous chant, “whose house??! Our house!!” Was chanted with great spirit, not by them, but by exhuberant Roadrunner fans, happy to bask in the joy of the first win of the season.
Follow me on Twitter @LaurieADyer, and @gridirongirlorg for UTSA news and updates