UTSA middle linebacker Josiah Tauaefa hovered over Baylor quarterback Anu Solomon for about a second and a half on the game-deciding fourth down in Waco. Solomon, who couldn’t seem to find an open receiver all night, scrambled around a collapsing front to buy some time, presenting Tauaefa with an opening to bomb-rush the quarterback and secure the Roadrunners’ first-ever Power 5 victory.
It was the exclamation point to a defensive performance that outright dominated Baylor all game. With a mere 274 yards of total production, Baylor’s ability to move the football was futile. Two for 12 on third down efficiency for the Bears ought to be the only stat you need to know.
Solomon completed only 10 of his 26 (38%) pass attempts as UTSA’s secondary manhandled Baylor’s receivers. Defensive coordinator Pete Golding brought edge rushers at Baylor’s backfield all night to cause extreme disruption in the backfield, culminating in four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Safety Carl Austin led the way with six tackles (four solo) including two and a half for negative yardage.
Marcus Davenport had a solo sack that put him at 14.5 for his career, making him the Roadrunners’ new all-time leader.
The first quarter was rather abysmal from both offenses. After a slow start for both offenses marred by penalties, UTSA safety Nate Gaines intercepted Solomon at midfield on Baylor’s second drive and it was looking hopeful that the Roadrunners would score first. Then, the special teams woes began for UTSA.
Unable to convert on third and long, UTSA trotted out place kicker Victor Falcon to attempt a 47-yard field goal. The kick was blocked and Baylor took over on downs. On UTSA’s next drive, the offense decided to go for a fourth and six instead of having Falcon attempt a 41-yard field goal. That was an odd decision. It was unsuccessful as Baylor took over on downs again.
Then, Baylor went three and out and UTSA punt returner Matt Guidry muffed the return after waving for a fair catch. Baylor recovered the ball on the 20-yard line. On the next play, Solomon hit wide receiver Denzel Mims in the endzone to put Baylor up 7-0.
And when the response was needed, UTSA quarterback Dalton Sturm answered the call.
The quarterback orchestrated a magnificent drive downfield, going four for six with 38 yards and hitting Josh Stewart in the endzone to tie the game at seven right before halftime.
And then when he came out to start the second half, Sturm displayed brilliance yet again. Sturm went for 78 yards and a touchdown in what was nothing short of the perfect display of a dual-threat. After a nine-yard completion to Kerry Thomas, Sturm tap danced around the backfield and hauled past the line of scrimmage for a 40-yard rush. He then hit Thomas again, this time for 29 yards in the endzone.
Sturm finished 15 for 20 with 155 yards and two touchdowns, and another 98 yards rushing - a seemingly flawless stat line.
Tailback Jalen Rhodes was UTSA’s primary ball carrier along with Tyrell Clay. The Sturm-Rhodes backfield duo could be one the most well-oiled machines in C-USA this season. The two had shown spurts of sound football in the early parts of the game, but by that second quarter scoring drive it appeared that all of the offseason rust had been shaken off. Rhodes finished with 103 yards on 20 carries (5.2 avg).
UTSA head coach Frank Wilson stuck to a conservative, run-heavy gameplan on offense to manage the game and completely control the clock. It worked to perfection as UTSA maintained possession for 38:52 opposed to Baylor’s 21:08. A lot of mental errors occurred, as expected in an opener, but ten penalties for UTSA can be detrimental if not polished.
If UTSA plays this kind of football in conference play, they might be unbeatable.
After ten tries to capture the elusive first-ever Power 5 victory, UTSA tasted the sweet glory all mid-majors yearn for. And Baylor, on the other hand, has now given opponents their first-ever Power 5 wins in back-to-back weeks after losing to Liberty in week one.
UTSA will finally return home to the Alamodome to take on Southern (FCS) next Saturday at 6 PM.