It may not always feel like it, but football is more than just offense. Coach Jeff Traylor’s team, however, is well aware.
Since he took over the UTSA football program, he has preached his Triangle of Toughness philosophy, which simply breaks down to executing in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams. Saturday inside the Alamodome, the triangle was on full display as the Roadrunners mounted a 34-0 halftime lead over the Lamar University Cardinals.
It started on defense, with the Roadrunners holding strong to force a punt from Lamar on their first drive. With the punt return team taking the field, they were quick to do their part as Sheldon Jones got some great blocks on his way to the endzone for the game’s first points. The 76-yard punt return for a touchdown was the program’s first since November 2012.
Playing with an early lead, the defense was smothering, preventing the Cardinals’ offense from getting past their own 40 yard-line until the second quarter. Their performance was key, as the Roadrunner offense couldn’t seem to get much going, despite having great starting field position on each drive. Behind the leg of senior kicker Hunter Duplessis, UTSA was able to build upon their lead with a pair of field goals. At the end of the first quarter, the Roadrunners led Lamar 13-0.
A Zakhari Franklin stiff-arm in the final seconds of the first quarter seemed to set the tone for UTSA to begin the second quarter. Just 56 seconds later, junior sensation Sincere McCormick found a hole and sprinted 18 yards into the endzone for the offense’s first touchdown of the half. The score put UTSA up 20-0 after Duplessis’ PAT was good.
The Roadrunner defense looked like they started to bend on Lamar’s next possession as the Cardinals made it to the 50-yard line for the first time in the game. It was a short-lived sentiment, however, as a bad snap sailed over the head of Lamar’s quarterback Jalen Dummett and was promptly scooped up by UTSA’s Charles Wiley and taken to the endzone for another Roadrunner score.
Dummett was replaced on the next drive for Lamar as the Cardinals turned to freshman quarterback Mike Chandler Jr. to get something going. Chandler played his high school ball at Judson High School. The change was for naught, and after another touchdown for McCormick late in the second quarter, the Roadrunners went into the locker room up 34-0.
Despite being the home opener, it would be shocking if Traylor continues to let his starters play much more in the second half.