Not a single cloud could be seen in the sky over Bishop D’Arcy Stadium on the campus of University of Saint Francis.

The parking lot had stereos blaring, grills cooking and the smell of tailgate food permeated the air.

Inside the stadium, more music was blaring as the Cougars prepared for their first game of the season.

Just before kickoff, there was a slight breeze to accompany the brisk, 43-degree temperature.

It was a beautiful fall — err, “spring,” but still actually winter — afternoon for college football.

When it came to the season opener for the USF football team Saturday, most of it felt out of the ordinary. Then again, what in the last year hasn’t? Later that night, 128 high school boys basketball teams would be competing for sectional championships.

Behind the benches were mounds of snow that had been removed from the playing surface weeks earlier. There, in Fort Wayne, football to be played for the first time in 469 days after NAIA moved the national championships for fall sports to the spring because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In August, USF announced it would play football in the spring.

“It’s weird,” Ethan Theurer, a Saint Francis sophomore and 2018 Jay County High School graduate, said of spring football. “It’s nothing like I’ve done before. Luckily it’s getting a little warmer now.

“Today was pretty good.”

It was a slow start for both teams on offense despite Taylor losing 37-14 to second-ranked Marian the week earlier. The game was tied 3-3 at halftime.

After intermission, however, the Cougars, and one local athlete in particular, got rolling.

Will Homan, a 2018 Fort Recovery product, broke his ankle before his freshman season and redshirted. In 2019, he had only a few carries, but they came in the waning moments of a 59-20 blowout.

Homan saw the field when it mattered Saturday and he made the most of his opportunity, just like he did as a sophomore for Fort Recovery when starting running back Kyle Schroer went down with an ankle injury.

When Schroer, then a senior, got hurt in a playoff game in 2015, Homan went on to rewrite the Fort Recovery record book for rushing over the course of the next two-plus seasons.

On Homan’s second play from scrimmage Saturday, the 5-foot, 9-inch shifty back rumbled for 28 yards, the team’s longest play of the day. He shed one tackle just past the line of scrimmage, and tried to get rid of another defender but was eventually brought down.

That same quarter, Homan recorded the first touchdown of his career, a 1-yard score two plays after the USF defense blocked a Taylor punt.

Then, Homan had himself a day. On the next Cougar drive, quarterback Matt Crable rolled to his right and connected with Homan in the end zone for a 24-yard TD pass, Homan’s first career reception, first TD catch and second score of the day.

“It felt amazing,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for this game for I think it was 470 days. Everybody was just hungry to play.”

And as the saying goes, Homan got to eat that day.

He finished with 75 yards on 11 touches and the one reception. He had six carries for 46 yards on the game’s final drive when the Cougars were running out the clock in a 24-10 victory.

“It’s really special,” Homan said. “I’ve been grinding in the weight room and putting everything I could on the field just to get that one chance.

“I think I took advantage of it today.”

While Homan didn’t lead the team in carries — Eli Wallace had 18 rushes for 69 yards and a touchdown — he paced USF in rushing yards.

After a day like that, he should certainly get more opportunities.

“Great day for Mr. Homan,” Cougar coach Kevin Donley said.

It was a day Donley wasn’t even sure the Cougars would get.

“Guys, I was wondering if it would ever happen again,” he told media after the game. “I’m so grateful. Give thanks to the good Lord for the opportunity to play a great game.”

There was a wide range of feelings Saturday. The piles of snow reminded us it was still technically winter, but once the game underway the calendar month was meaningless. It seemed more like a late fall afternoon rather than early March.

Seeing Homan with his trademark running style — a bruiser when he needs to be but shifty when the situation calls for it — was reminiscent of his glory days wearing purple and grey at Fort Recovery.

Meaningful football in the spring; it was the same, but different.