Saturday, November 08, 2014

Houston drops a heartbreaker to Tulane, 31-24

Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loca Photography  

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2014 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 8, 2014) The Houston Cougars scored 10 points in the final 1:53 of the first half;  taking a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime. They could not retain the lead in the second half. as the Green Wave came back from behind in the second half to down the Cougars by the score of 31-24 at TDECU Stadium in Houston on Saturday, November 8, 2014. 

With the loss, Houston dropped to 3-2 in the American Athletic Conference, and 5-4 for the season. The Green Wave raised their record to 3-6 and 2-3 in The American.

Tulane found the end zone first at 11:19 in the first quarter when Teddy Lee caught a Tanner Lee pass from 12 yards out for the score. Andrew DiRocco added the extra point to give the Green wave an early 7-0 lead.

The Cougars followed up with a 13 play, 63 yard drive that lasted 6:03 to even the score at seven-all. Greg Ward, Jr. connected with Markeith Ambles who rambled 19 yards for the touchdown.  Kyle Bullard split the uprights for his 23rd extra point of the season tie the score with 1:36 remaining in the quarter.

The Green Wave added a touchdown and extra point early in the second quarter to make the score 14-7. The score remained that way until 1:53 was left in the half.

At that point, Tulane had the ball on the Houston 10 yard line on a second down and eight yards to go. Lee hit Teddy Veal with a pass for an eight-yard gain, to the Houston two yard line. However, Houston free safety connected with Veal; forcing a fumble. An alert Adrian McDonald recovered the ball as it rolled into the end zone for the touchdown. Bullard added the conversion to again tie the score.

After the kickoff, Tulane drove 40-yard on eight played before giving the ball back to Houston with 1:33 left on the clock. Houston began their drive on their own 47-yard line and advanced to the Tulane 22 yard line before being forced to attempt a field goal.

Bullard scored his 14th field goal of the season to give the Cougars their 17-14 lead at the half.

Tulane scored a single touchdown and extra point in the third quarter to take a 21-17 lead going into the final 15 minutes of the game.  Lee found Leondre James open and tossed the ball nine yards for the score. DiRocco added the extra point for the four point lead.

Bullard, who had hit 14 of 16 field goals, with his last previously in the game, went wide right at the 11:29 mark. He then went wide left with 10 second left in the quarter, for his second miss of the game. The sure-footed kicker had only missed two goals previously in 2014.

In the fourth quarter, Tulane furthered their lead to 31-17 on a Dontrell Hillard one yard run and an extra point and a field goal by DiRocco.

The Cougars cut the Tulane lead to seven with 1:04 left in the game when Greg Ward, Jr. capped a 12 play, 82 yard drive with a nine yard pass to Deontay Greenberry for a touchdown. Bullard added the extra point and Houston prepared to kick off to the Green Wave.

Ty Cummings kicked off and booted the ball 12 yards with an onside kick. Houston’s Tyler McCloskey recovered the ball on the Houston 47 yard line to give the Cougars one final chance to win the game.

Ward, Jr. drove the ball 48 yards in eight plays, running 1:02 of the clock before he was picked off by Perry Nickerson on the goal line. He returned the ball to the 12-yard line as the clock ran out.

Houston head coach Tony Levine expressed his thoughts on the game to the press after the game.

“There were a few plays that we got out of position. To win these games, we can’t put ourselves in these types of positions. We had too many turnovers on offense and didn’t force enough on defense. We didn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Offensively, Ward, Jr. completed 31-of-45 passes for 342 yards. He also rushed for 59 yards and was intercepted three times.

Greenberry caught 12 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown. Wayne Beadle and Steven Dunbar each caught six passes for 65 and 64-yards respectively.

On defense, Efrem Oliphant continued his stellar season, accounting for 13 tackles and one sack. He now has 96 tackles for the season, along with 20 sacks.

The 6-1, senior linebacker stated in the post-game press conference about the defense’s play in the game.

“There were a few plays that we got out of position. To win these games, we can’t put ourselves in these types of positions. We had too many turnovers on offense and didn’t force enough on defense. We didn’t stop them when we needed to.”
Houston will now have a bye-week before their final home game of the season, facing the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on November 22. They close out the season with two games on the road. They will play former Southwest Conference and Conference USA rival SMU on November 28 in Dallas. They will close out the season versus Cincinnati on December 6 in Cincinnati.

No comments: