SOUTH BEND, IN. – The University of Tulsa picked up a huge win on the road Saturday, as the Hurricane stunned the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame 28-27 in the shadows of Touchdown Jesus at Notre Dame Stadium. Tulsa played perhaps it’s best all-around game of the season, scoring on offense, special teams and defense before John Flanders intercepted an Irish pass in the end zone with :36 left to ice the win.
The defense and special teams accounted for 15 of the Hurricane’s points on the day as they picked up their first win over a BCS opponent since 1998 and improved to 5-3 on the season.
completed 18 of 34 pass attempts for 196 yards and one score, while
adding another 78 yards on the ground. Irish freshman quarterback Tommy Rees was 33-of-54 for 334 yards and four touchdowns in relief of starter Dayne Crist who was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a knee injury. Damaris Johnson
accounted for 208 of Tulsa’s 399 offensive yards, marking the 14th time
in his career that he has surpassed the 200 all-purpose yard mark in a
Tulsa jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, when the Hurricane went 67 yards in nine plays with Kinne capping the drive with a nine yard TD toss to Johnson just five minutes into the opening quarter. Notre Dame responded with Rees leading the Irish on a nine play, 78 yards drive resulting in a touchdown pass to Michael Floyd. Tulsa picked up two more points on the extra point attempt, when the kick was blocked and Curnelius Arnick returned the ball 98 yards to put the Hurricane up 9-6.
The Hurricane increased their lead to 12-6 when Kevin Fitzpatrick hit a 37 yard field goal with 2:59 remaining in the quarter. Rees put the Irish on top 13-12, just 1:38 later when he connected with T.J. Jones, who lateraled to Cierre Wood for a 22 yard score capping a five play, 58 yard drive. Notre Dame added to their lead with 8:10 left in the second when Rees found Floyd for a four yard score to make it 20-12.
With :37 left in the half and the Irish driving, Shawn Jackson intercepted a Rees pass and returned it 66 yards for a score. Tulsa would trail 20-18 heading into the locker room after electing to attempt a two point conversion after the touchdown.
Tulsa took the ball 61 yards on eight plays to open the third quarter, before a Ja’Terian Douglas fumble gave Notre Dame the ball at their own 19 yard-line. The Irish, again led by Rees, marched 81 yards on nine plays, scoring on a six-yard pass caught by Wood to go up 27-18.
Each team’s following drives stalled, setting the stage for Johnson to work his magic. Catching an Irish punt at his own 41, Johnson darted down the center of the field, cutting left at the Notre Dame 40 yard-line and raced 59 yards to pull the Hurricane back within two-points. The two squads then traded seven punts before Tulsa regained the lead on a 27 yard Ftizpatrick field goal with 3:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Nine plays, and 59 yards later the Irish were knocking on the door when Flanders hauled in the interception to secure the win.
"I’ve never been a part of anything like that," said Kinne of the win over one of college football’s most storied programs. "It was an awesome feeling…It’s something we’ll remember forever.
"The defense really stepped it up and played a great game, give credit to them. We just kept plugging away, plugging away and it came our way finally," he added.
"Today was a big day for the University of Tulsa," said Hurricane Head Coach Todd Graham. "I’m really proud of our kids. I can’t put into words how much this means to our program."
Tulsa now prepares for a conference battle with Rice (2-5, 1-3) at H.A. Chapman Stadium at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
9:48 1st TU Kinne 9 pass to Da. Johnson (Fitzpatrick Kick)
6:13 1st ND Rees 10 pass to Floyd (PAT blocked)
6:13 1st TU Arnick blocked PAT return 98 yards
2:59 1st TU Fitzpatrick 37 FG
1:21 1st ND Rees 22 pass to Jones, lateraled to Woods (Ruffer Kick)
8:10 2nd ND Rees 4 pass to Floyd (Ruffer kick)
0:37 2nd TU Jackson 66 yard INT return (pass failed)
8:47 3rd ND Rees 6 pass to Wood (Ruffer kick)
4:59 3rd TU Da. Johnson 59 punt return (Fitzpatrick kick)
3:23 4th TU Fitzpatrick 27 FG
UCF 49, East Carolina 35
UAB 50, Southern Miss 49 (2OT)
SMU 31, Tulane 17
Marshall 16, UTEP 12
Houston 56, Memphis 17