As the Roadrunners prepare to finish their 10th season of football we look back at the top 10 games in the first 10 seasons. Today the 8th best game, the inaugural game in 2011.
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EDITORS NOTE: This is the fourth in a series counting down the top 10 games of the first 10 seasons of Roadrunner football. The series will run between now and New Years Eve.
This Saturday the Roadrunners will finish their 10th season of football when they play in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas. Where the Roadrunners’ second bowl game ranks on the list of great games remains to be seen.
Today in our series counting down the top 10 games in program history we look at the eighth best game in UTSA history. It was the day UTSA set all kind of records in the inaugural game against Northeastern State.
On September 3, 2011 the city of San Antonio was able to join the club of big cities with Division I college football. The city’s flagship public university finally fielded a football team. For the Roadrunner fans who experienced that day they will never forget it. For those who didn’t live it here is a look back at the game that started it all.
The Leadup to the Game
The Roadrunners football debut was highly anticipated, not just in San Antonio but around the state. It isn’t everyday that one of the largest cities in the country has a college start football. Add to that a football program being led by a former national champion and it is the recipe for a great story.
UTSA football had that going for it as the Roadrunners prepared for their first game. In March of 2009 former Miami Hurricane Head Coach Larry Coker was hired as the first football coach. When he was hired Coker took over a program that consisted of one helmet and one football.
Eventually, between March of 2009 and September of 2011 the Roadrunner football team took shape. The birth of the Roadrunner football team was chronicled in a six part series on Fox Sports during the summer and fall of 2011.
Labor Day weekend 2011 would be the time that UTSA finally took the field. The question wasn’t would anyone show up as much as it was how many could fit into the Alamodome after business leaders in San Antonio had pushed to try and fill the dome for the inaugural game.
What happened in the game
The question of how many people would show up was answered in the form of the 56,743 fans entering the Alamodome on September 3, 2011. That total set a new record for a Division I football program’s inaugural game.
Coker and the Roadrunners were quick to give the record crowd something to cheer about against the Northeastern State Riverhawks. UTSA scored on its first three drives of the game. The first touchdown in school history came at the 11:35 mark of the first quarter when Eric Soza ran in from 14 yards out. Sean Ianno added the first extra point in school history and UTSA led 7-0.
The Roadrunners made it 14-0 at the 6:34 mark of the first quarter when Soza and Jake Wannamaker connected for six-yard pass that became UTSA’s first ever passing touchdown.
Soza and Jones then connected on a three-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 remaining in the first quarter to give UTSA a 21-0 lead.
Ianno kicked the first field goal in school history on the final play of the first half to send the Roadrunners into the locker room with a 24-0 lead.
UTSA’s defense stymied the Riverhawks on the day. Northeastern State only managed a field goal on their first drive in the third quarter. The Riverhawks finished the game with just 36 yards rushing and 271 yards passing.
With 5:46 remaining in the third quarter, David Glasco II became the first Roadrunner running back to score a touchdown on the ground with a seven-yard run. It proved to be the final touchdown of the day in a 31-3 win for the Roadrunners.
What happened after the game
After UTSA won the inaugural game the fun wasn’t over. After the clock ran out in the fourth quarter, hundreds of Roadrunner fans left the stands and made their way to the field. A few were tackled by members of the SAPD and arrested although no charges were ever filed against the fans.
The crowds continued to show up in 2011. By the end of the season the Roadrunners held the record for average attendance by a D-1 startup program. UTSA finished 4-6 in 2011 with all four wins coming at home.
Two of the six losses came at home. The first loss in program history came just a week after the first game when UTSA was stunned by McMurry on a last minute touchdown. The other home loss in 2011 was an overtime game against South Alabama.
None of that was known at the time of the first game. The only thing anyone knew after the game on September 3, 2011 was that college football had arrived in San Antonio and the “UTSA Football: Still Undefeated” t-shirts were true for a little while longer.
What makes this a top 10 game
This remains the only game from 2011 that remains one of the 10 best in UTSA football history. The Roadrunners set an NCAA record for largest crowd in an inaugural game. The atmosphere was one that nobody who was there will ever forget. Aside from Alamo Bowls it was probably the loudest the Alamodome has ever been. The players from Northeastern State never saw anything like that before or after their trip to face the Roadrunners.
For UTSA this game set an attendance mark that hasn’t been matched since. While other feats accomplished that day have been replicated in the years since, the 56,743 attendance remains as indelible a mark in the program as the date of September 3, 2011.
There will someday be a game where UTSA draws more fans than the total that saw inaugural game. There also will be games in the future that surpass the inaugural game’s spot in the top 10 list of great games. But nothing will ever take away the memories of the people who were in the Alamodome on the day the Roadrunners football team played their first game.
TOMORROW: Game Number 7: UTSA upsets a conference foe on a cold November day.
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