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Houston Cougars hold off Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Become Bowl Eligible

The Houston Cougars beat back the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 38-28 to avoid being upset in consecutive weeks.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Cougars, coming off an off-week following a 31-24 loss against the Tulane Green Wave, started the game by dominating the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on their first drive. Houston had no negative plays and no incompletions on the drive, but the Tulsa defense was able to stuff Kenneth Farrow on a third and goal from the Tulsa 1 yard line. Farrow though found an easy route to the end zone on fourth down to give the Cougars an early seven point lead.

Tulsa's first drive of the game started with promise as the Golden Hurricane also were able to move the ball down the field ease until it reached the Houston 23. Tulsa could not advance the ball past the 23 which put Tulsa in a 4th-and-1 situation. Unlike the Cougars, the Golden Hurricane was not able to convert on fourth down.

On the next Houston drive, Farrow and the Cougars were able to convert another fourth and goal from the one to take a 14-0 lead. While Tulsa's next drive stalled around the same area of the field as it did on its first drive. Carl Salazar looked to get Tulsa on the board with a 44 field goal attempt, but the ball flew very wide to the left.

The Golden Hurricane defense was able to hold the Cougars offense to a six play drive and force the first punt of the game. Houston's defense responded by holding the Tulsa offense to a six play drive which ended in a punt.

The Cougars went three-and-out giving the Hurricane great field possession at the Houston 41. Dane Evans kicked it into high gear, hitting Keyarris Garrett down at the Houston five, setting up a short run for Evans to put the Hurricane on the board with just under five minutes to play in the first half.

In the second half, Tulsa opened the scoring on the first drive of the half. The Golden Hurricane used 14 plays to march 73 yards down the field. From two yards out, Zack Langer found the end zone for the third time this season. Salazar hit the point after to tie the game at 14.

Greg Ward Jr. and Co. responded quickly. On the third play, Ward hit Steven Dunbar for a 24 yard pass, to move the Cougars on to the Tulsa side of the 50. On the next play, Farrow found an opening and made his way to the end zone from 45 yards out to regain the lead for Houston.

The Golden Hurricane would have nothing of it by responding with a touchdown of their own. Evans hit Garrett for a 17 yard reception in the corner of the end zone to tie the game again. Houston only needed four plays to regain the lead. Ward found Markeith Ambles for a 25 yard touchdown reception following long plays by Farrow and Steven Dunbar.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Evans threw his first pick of the day to Howard Wilson. Houston seemed poised to take the two possession lead, but Tulsa defensive star Michael Mudoh blocked Kyle Bullard's 30 yard field goal attempt. Tulsa used this momentum shift to bring the ball back down the field, but the Cougars held the Hurricane to fourth and goal. Evans was able to find Zach Epps uncovered in the end zone though to tie-up the game.

The Tulsa defense was unable to standup and help the offense. The Houston Cougars were against able to move down the field with little resistance. Farrow was again given the ball to regain the lead for the Cougars with his fourth touchdown on the day.

Down 35-28, Tulsa's offense returned to the field. Evans demonstrated his trademark ability to make bad decisions under pressure. After two short passes earned the Golden Hurricane two yards, Evans went deep for Bishop Louie who was well covered. The pass went incomplete forcing Tulsa to go for it on fourth down. Again, Evans throws deep to a well covered receiver. The ball went about ten yards short and was picked off by Adrian McDonald.

The Cougars went -6 yards, but were still within Bullard's field goal range. He hit the 35 yarder to clinch the lead for Houston. The Golden Hurricane tried again to move the ball down the field, but as time expired, Evans threw his third interception of the quarter, this time to Trevon Stewart, closing out the Cougars 38-28 victory.

Houston reached bowl eligibility by winning its sixth game of the season. The Cougars is 4-2 in American Athletic play with SMU, a Black Friday game with kick-off at 11 a.m. CST, and Cincinnati left of their schedule, both winnable games for the Cougars.

The Golden Hurricane lost its ninth game of the year and fifth in its inaugural season of American Athletic play. With only one game left, head coach Bill Blankenship has one last chance to prove he deserve to remain at the helm of a terrible Golden Hurricane team. Tulsa hosts the East Carolina Pirates on another Black Friday game, with kick-off set for 7:30 p.m. CST on ESPNU.