The Houston Cougars improved to 4-1 on the season despite a scare from the Tulsa Gold Hurricane. While Tulsa exited the third quarter with a lead, Houston exploded in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Tulsa head coach Phil Montgomery suggested that the Golden Hurricane could make a change at quarterback this week and the second year head coach did just that, inserting freshman Seth Boomer into the starting line up on a Thursday night tilt against the Houston Cougars.
Boomer would start the scoring by leading his offense on a gutsy nine play, 82 yard scoring drive to take the first lead in the game. The Golden Hurricane faced fourth and four on the drive but Boomer was able to use his feet to buy him time to find a wide open Keenen Johnson to take an early 7-0 lead over the Cougars.
Tulsa’s defense would match the hot start after linebacker Cooper Edmiston grabbed a dropped pass and returned it to the UH nine yard line. Chad President came into the game at quarterback to lead a redzone package but the offense was unable to find the endzone, leading to a 10-0 lead for Tulsa.
Houston would quickly cut the lead to 10-7 after D’Eriq King marched the Cougars’ offense down the field. Despite facing 1st and 30 following an offensive facemask penalty, Houston would convert for a first down before finding Keith Corbin in the endzone for a leaping touchdown catch.
After a fumble recovery for Houston was overturned, Tulsa would build on their lead with a 32 yard field goal from Nate Walker to bring the score to 13-7. Following the field goal, Edmiston would make his presence felt again by forcing a fumble that would be recovered by the Golden Hurricane defense. Houston would return the favor by stripping the ball out of the hands of Justin Hobbs on a long pass completion in the following drive.
The turnover party would rage on after Tulsa freshman Zaven Collins would pick off a third and long attempt from D’Eriq King. Unable to convert on fourth down, Tulsa gave the ball back to the Cougars who would use the short field to take their first lead of the game. D’Eriq King was nearly sacked on third down but he escaped an arm tackle and scrambled into the end zone to give UH a 14-13 lead.
Houston would get their running game going on their next drive as Patrick Carr and Mulbah Car would both show speed and strength to march the Cougars’ offense down the field. Dalton Witherspoon would split the uprights with a 40 yard kick to give UH a 17-13 lead.
Energized coming out of the locker room, Tulsa would lean on their rushing attack on a 13 play, 65 yard drive to start the second half. While the Golden Hurricane were in great position to take a lead, Seth Boomer failed to recognize some open receivers in the end zone, forcing Tulsa to settle for a 27 yard field goal which would cut Houston’s lead to 17-16.
Tulsa would continue to control the third quarter as they manufactured a 10 play drive to regain the lead. Key breakdowns in the Houston secondary took their toll and Corey Taylor eventually cut through the Cougars’ defense to find the end zone, giving the Golden Hurricane a 23-17 lead.
The third quarter proved to be disastrous for Houston, as Tulsa would out gain the Cougars 174 to 7.
An inexcusable false start penalty from Tulsa prevented the Golden Hurricane from converting on third down, leading to a 35 yard field goal to bring the lead to 26-17 with just 13:10 remaining in the game.
The Cougars desperately needed a score on the following drive and quarterback D’Eriq King delivered when his team needed it most. The speedster found a crease in the Tulsa defense and ran right through it for a 61 yard touchdown to cut Tulsa’s lead to 26-24. Houston’s defense was able to force a three and out following the touchdown, leading the way for another Houston field goal.
While freshman quarterback Seth Boomer had a strong game for Tulsa, a rookie mistake gave Houston the final spark they needed to win this game. Boomer held the ball for way too long, giving the Cougars plenty of time to get to him for a sack and forced fumble. The defense would recover, and D’Eriq King found Romello Brooker on the next play to take a 34-26 lead.
Boomer would compound things on Tulsa’s next drive, as he would throw an errant pass directly to Houston defender Deontay Anderson. It wouldn’t take long for Houston to increase their lead to 41-26 after D’Eriq King found Marquez Stevenson alone in the end zone.
A three and out from Tulsa would give Houston the ball back as they would unceremoniously bleed the clock dry before punting it back over to the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa’s last possession went nowhere and the Cougars would hold on to secure the win.
Houston quarterback D’Eriq King finished the game with 165 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air, in addition to 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. King’s running backs Patrick Carr and Mulbah Car would combine for 165 yards and two touchdowns. King’s passing distribution was very balanced, as he connected with nine different receivers.
The Cougars’ defense was led by Roman Brown who turned in 13 tackles. Ed Oliver would follow with 12 tackles (1 TFL), while safety Austin Robinson enjoyed a great game with three tackles for loss.
Seth Boomer certainly showed some promise in his first start but his stat line shows he still has quite a bit of room for growth. Boomer passed for 227 yards on 42% passing. The freshman only threw one interception but it could have easily been three or more as the Cougars dropped many potentials picks.
Linebacker Cooper Edmiston played lights out for Tulsa, finishing with a team-leading 10 tackles while also grabbing an interception and forcing a fumble.
After falling to 1-4 on the year, Tulsa will face USF at home next week in the Golden Hurricane’s second straight showing on ESPN. Houston will hit the road to face an improving ECU team on CBS Sports.