It’s been four years since the Golden Hurricane got the best of Willie Fritz’s Tulane team. On Thursday night in Tulsa though, it happened. Now give the Green Wave credit, they came to play and forced Philip Montgomery’s crew to double overtime before it was finally decided but this was Tulsa’s night. This (may be) Tulsa’s year.
Coming into Thursday nights showcase contest, the Golden Hurricane found themselves in unfamiliar territory, at least of late. They were ranked. Yes, coming in at #25 was Tulsa who were welcoming in a hot Tulane team that had won its last three. It was bound to be a good one and it certainly lived up to the hype.
Neither team could find any traction offensively to start. Traded punts paired with missed field goals from Tulane and Tulsa kickers Merek Glover and Zach Long respectively resulted in a scoreless game at halftime. Give the defenses due credit. The Green Wave had put up 38 points in each of their last three contests while Tulsa was averaging 34.5 points in each of their victories. Thwarting either offense has been no easy task this season.
The third quarter saw Tulane finally break out. Running back Stephon Huderson found the end zone from five yards out before freshman phenom QB Michael Pratt connected with Will Wallace for a 27-yard touchdown. In a game that had been tooth and nail up to this point, the momentum had swung almost entirely to the visitor’s side.
This year’s Tulsa team, however, is different than the lackluster versions we’ve seen in recent memory and the word “quit” is not in their vocabulary. The Golden Hurricane began to rally back in the fourth thanks to a 18-yard touchdown run by Davis Brin. Still trailing by seven, Tulsa was at least on the board.
Blin’s score was followed up by a stout defensive stop that quickly returned the ball to the offense. Brin led a long, 11-play drive that he capped with a 19-yard touchdown to Josh Johnson. With just over three minutes left the game was tied.
It didn’t take much time at all for Tulane to answer. After Amare Jones busted out a 71-yard kickoff return, Pratt orchestrated a quick score. His 19-yard touchdown throw to Tyrick James gave Tulane the late lead.
Once again though, Tulsa doesn’t fold. Brin led the offense down to the 37 yard line and found himself heaving up a desperation throw as the clock hit zeroes. Tulane was this close to knocking off ranked Tulsa at home but JuanCarlos Santana had different plans. He came down with Brin’s heave for the dramatic touchdown that tied the game. Against all odds for the Golden Hurricane it was overtime.
The teams traded field goals in the opening frame of extra ball. It was Tulsa’s defense though, that would ultimately end it. For all their struggles in the second half, they finally stepped up to deliver the improbable win. An errant toss from Pratt was promptly picked off by Zaven Collins who, much to the elation of the Tulsa faithful, sprinted 96-yards in the opposite direction for the game-sealing score. In truly unbelievable fashion, the Golden Hurricane improved to 5-1.
The result, as joyful as it was for Tulsa is equally heart wrenching for Tulane. Now at 5-6 and with Memphis up next a third consecutive bowl bid may not be in the cards for the Greenies this year.
How about Tulsa though? This group has snuck up and are now in serious talks to content for an AAC championship this season. Getting by #7 Cincinnati will be a tall order but they have a chance: more than we could say about these guys a few years ago. This game may be looked back on as Tulsa’s coronation but for now the Golden Hurricane turn their attention to Houston.