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The Army’s Black Knights scored the first touchdown in Saturday’s inaugural meeting between UTSA and Army West Point at the Alamodome, which ended in a victory for the cadets. But fans of both teams called the matchup a win for Military City USA.
With Saturday’s game, the Roadrunners marked their 97th game in 19 seasons. Army West Point has been playing football since 1890. Both UTSA, which turned 50 this year, and Army West Point brought their rich traditions, one in football and the other in military, to celebrate the historic game.
At a pre-game party organized by the West Point Society of South Texas, West Point alum Ed Clukey said he would be cheering for the Black Knights, but was proud to have the game played in the city he calls home. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase San Antonio,” said Clukey, president of the organization. “People here like their town and welcome good people to their town.”
More than a thousand people attended the tailgate party and fundraiser at Alamo Beer where fans cheered ahead of the game as the U.S. Military Academy’s Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, led the Army’s oldest active-duty band into the brewery.
William Charles, a 1954 graduate of West Point and Air Force veteran, who attended with his wife Kathy, predicted the game would be memorable because, as he said, Army might not be the strongest football team, but they make up for it with “courage.”
San Antonio native Ruben Lopez, a 1984 graduate of West Point, came to the Army tailgate wearing a flannel World War II-replica Army uniform, similar to the ones worn by several soldier reenactors from the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg who also attended the tailgate.
As assistant director of UTSA’s Small Business Development Center, Lopez called it a “real treat” to have the game played in San Antonio and against a home team. The last time Army played in San Antonio, it was against Notre Dame, in 2016.
While most UTSA fans met up for a “Birds Up” tailgate near the Alamodome, some were welcomed into the Army tailgate despite wearing their bright orange and blue in a field of black and gold.
Paul Mathis and Ricardo Ambriz, who both earned undergraduate and master’s degrees at UTSA, joined their colleagues and friends who are West Point graduates at the tailgate with “Beat UTSA” stickers on their UTSA-branded shirts.
“We’ll be rooting for UTSA sitting in the Army section,” Ambriz said, adding, “It’s all good. San Antonio supports anybody associated with the military and UTSA.”
A Ticket for Troops program sponsored by UTSA Athletics and the UTSA Office of Veteran and Military Affairs offered discounted tickets to Saturday’s game for active-duty service members, and a large section of the dome’s upper level was occupied by men and women in uniform.
Before the game, fighter jets performed a military flyover, which was broadcast to fans inside the Alamodome, and a giant U.S. flag was unfurled from one end zone to the other during the national anthem. U.S. Army North Commander Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson served as a special guest for the opening game coin toss.
During halftime, service members were asked to stand and be recognized for their service as the UTSA marching band played the official songs of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Documation presented a $1,000 check to the American GI Forum.
The game, sponsored by USAA, H-E-B, and Methodist Healthcare, was televised nationally on the NFL Network. The final score was 31-13.
UTSA’s next game is Sept. 21 at the University of North Texas in Denton.