Saturday, October 15, 2016

Houston Cougars stop Tulsa on last-second play to down the Golden Hurricane 38-31

Dillon Birden (25) scored three touchdowns in
Houston's 38-31 win over Tulsa.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis,
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2016 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (October 15, 2016) With the Houston Cougars leading 38-31 and only seven seconds remaining in the game, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane had the ball on the Houston two-yard line on a second-and-goal play. All they needed to was punch the ball into the end zone and kick an extra point to send the game into overtime. However, as it is in so many sporting events, Houston had another idea and stopped Tulsa on the one-yard line to secure their sixth win of the season and move them to 3-1 in American Athletic Conference play. The 38,221 fans in attendance at Houston’s TDECU Stadium on Saturday, October 15, 2016 saw a classic struggle of two very good football teams that both desired a win, with only one walking away victorious.

Houston did not take long to begin their new winning streak, scoring after 2:23 of play when Dillon Birden carried the ball the final 17 yards of a 76-yard drive for the first touchdown of the game. Ty Cummings added the extra point to put the Cougars up 7-0. Tulsa responded five minutes later with a Redford Jones 32-yard field goal to cut Houston’s lead to 7-3. Cumming added a 33-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the first quarter to give Houston a 10-3 lead after 15 minutes of play.

In the second quarter, the Cougars added seven more points on a six-yard carry by Mulbar Car and another Cummings extra point. The Golden Hurricane scored two touchdowns in the final 2:55 of the first half to tie the score at 17. Corey Taylor scored on a two-yard run while Dane Evans rushed for a one-yard touchdown. Jones added both extra points to cap the scoring after 30 minutes of play.

Mulbar Car (34) scored the Cougars'
scored third TD in Houston's
38-31 win over Tulsa.
Photo by Darla S Tamulitis,
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved
In the third quarter, both teams battled back-and-forth with neither team able to get an advantage until Houston marched down the field and took back the lead 24-17. Birden scored his second TD of the game on a six-yard run with 13 seconds to go in the quarter. Cummings added the extra point to close out the quarter. The Cougars extended their lead to 14 when Birden scored his third touchdown of the game; an eight-yard rush, and another kick by Cummings at the 8:29 mark in the fourth quarter. It took only 1:26 for the Golden Hurricane to again cut the Houston lead to seven on a 38-yard pass from Evans to Justin Hobbs and Jones’ extra point. With 3:31 left in the game, Tulsa tied the score at 31 on a three-yard run by James Flanders and another Jones conversion. Houston came right back and sealed the win with a 24-yard fumble recovery Emeke Egbule returning it for the score. Evans was sacked for a eight-yard loss on a first and ten play from their own 33-yard line. Houston now leads the series 23-18. Last year, Houston downed Tulsa by the score of 28-24 on October 3 in Tulsa.

Houston head coach Tom Herman discussed the defense's performance with the press after the game. 

On the confidence of the defensive after the last two games “They ran for under 100 yards and we’re built to stop the run. We’ve got to get better against the pass. Last week, from a defensive standpoint, we flushed that. Your defense is so different defending the triple option that we’ll worry about that the next time we play a triple-option team. It has no bearing on the way our defense played tonight because the alignment, assignments and techniques are all different. I didn’t sense any doubt from our defense. It’s apparent we’ve got to get better in our pass defense and coverage. Again, as statistics go, we dodged a statistic tonight. Which is, win or lose against Navy the last three or four years, teams’ winning percentages are awful the week after Navy. In 2014, teams were 1-11 the weeks after they played Navy, win or lose. I don’t know what the stat is this year, but I’m proud of our defense after getting so banged up in that game against Navy, then having to re-adjust the entire defensive scheme in such a short week. (Tulsa) is a really good offense and really tough to defend because of their scheme and the way they spread the field. We know we have to improve, there’s no doubt about that. To do it the week after playing Navy was very good.” 

The Cougars will hit the road next weekend to face instate rival SMU. The game is scheduled for a 6   p.m. kickoff at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Houston is 20-10-1 lifetime against the Mustangs. In 2015, the Cougars downed SMU 49-28 in front of 25,204 fans at Houston’s TDECU Stadium. After the win, Houston broke into the national rankings, debuting at No. 24 in the AP poll. 

Readers can view a slide show of photos from the game by Darla S Tamulitis of La Vita Loca Photography by clicking here.

No comments: