A last-second, hail mary touchdown pass spoiled the season opener for the University of Tulsa on Sunday in Greenville, North Carolina. The Golden Hurricane led 49-45 with 1:22 remaining, before the East Carolina Pirates drove 66 yards on nine plays to steal the 51-49 victory in a Conference USA shootout in front of 50,010 fans and a national television audience.
With five seconds remaining on the clock, East Carolina was faced with fourth and 10 from the Tulsa 33 yard-line when quarterback Dominique Davis hurled a pass into the corner of the end zone that was hauled in by 6’8” receiver Justin Jones as time expired. The touchdown closed out a second half scoring frenzy that saw both teams combine for 67 points.
Junior quarterback G.J. Kinne connected on 28-of-43 passes en route to career-bests of 399 passing yards and five touchdown passes. Tulsa out-gained East Carolina 579-538 yards as the Golden Hurricane added 180 rushing yards.
Entering the second half down 17-16, the Golden Hurricane took a 23-17 lead on it’s second possession of the half when Kinne hit Clay Sears on a 12-yard touchdown strike. The Pirates responded with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Davis to Lance Lewis a little over a minute later as East Carolina once again pulled ahead by one. Tulsa closed out the third quarter scoring on a three-yard TD pass from Kinne to Jameel Owens with 3:26 left. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
In true shootout fashion the two teams saved their best for last, as they combined to score 47 fourth quarter points while trading the lead seven times. Davis regained the lead for ECU with 13:23 remaining on a two-yard run, capping a 14-play, 80-yard drive. Tulsa responded quickly when Kinne connected with Willie Carter on a 75-yard touchdown pass. The Golden Hurricane once again failed to convert the two-point PAT and led 35-31 with 12:54 left.
After Davis found Dwayne Harris for a 34-yard score with 6:05 remaining, Tulsa reeled off their longest possession of the day, spanning 11 plays and 66 yards over 4:43 as they attempted to burn out the clock. Kinne connected with Charles Clay on a three-yard scoring pass with 1:22 left and the Golden Hurricane held a four point lead before Davis drove the Pirates 66-yards for the game-winning score.
Tulsa will now regroup in preparation for their home-opener against Bowling Green at 6 p.m. Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. The last meeting between the two teams came on January 6, 2008 when the Golden Hurricane capped off a 10-4 season with a 63-7 blowout of the Falcons.
Tickets are available at the Reynolds Center ticket office, online or by calling 631-GOTU (4688).