It was a record-setting night for the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Saturday during a 28-25 win in front of 32,046 fans at Houston‘s Robertson Stadium. Glenpool product Marco Nelson tied a school record with three interceptions to lead the defensive effort. Quarterback G.J. Kinne added 190 rushing yards, marking a career-best for the junior who also finished with a rushing touchdown, 154 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.
The win was Tulsa’s first in Houston since 1993.
Defensively, Tulsa picked off five passes – Curnelius Arnick supplemented to Nelson’s total with two of his own. In recognition of his big game, Nelson was honored as the Walter Camp Foundation Defensive Player of the Week.
Tulsa, now 7-3 overall and 4-2 in C-USA play, is now back in the thick of the West Division championship race. The Hurricane are tied with SMU (5-5, 4-2) atop the division standings with two games remaining for each team.
Tulsa took their opening possession 85 yards on ten plays before Alex Singleton plunged in for a two-yard score to put the Hurricane on top early. The Hurricane defense then shut down the Cougars on their next two drives, with two separate interceptions. Tulsa fell short in each drive, however, and was forced to punt.
Tulsa’s defense then stepped up once again, as Arnick hauled in his first interception, returning the ball 12 yards to Houston’s 45 yard-line with 5:58 remaining in the half. It then took just 0:49 for Kinne to lead the Hurricane to paydirt, hitting Jameel Owens on a four-yard scoring strike to put Tulsa on top 14-7. Arnick’s second interception just 0:40 later set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Kinne to Clay Sears to give the Hurricane a 14-point lead at the half.
Houston capped the opening drive of the second half with a 32-yard field goal by Matt Hogan that made the score 21-10. After trading punts, Tulsa took their second possession of the half 80-yards in 11 plays, scoring on a one-yard touchdown run by Kinne.
Houston took advantage of a momentum change towards the end of the third quarter, mounting two consecutive scoring drives that put them back within three points of Tulsa with 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Piland connected with James Cleveland for a 19-yard touchdown to pull back within two minutes left in the third. After the Golden Hurricane turned the ball over on downs, the Cougars wasted little time scoring again.
On the first play of the next drive, Kierrie Johnson hauled in a Piland pass and went 66 yards for the score. The Cougars then completed a two point conversion to cut the Hurricane lead to three.
Houston regained possession with more than seven minutes remaining after a Tulsa punt, and marched 39-yards downfield before Nelson’s third interception at Tulsa’s 21 yard-line sealed the game. The Hurricane offense then took over and was able to run off the final 5:39 of the clock to claim the win.
Tulsa now shifts it’s focus to a 1:00 p.m. match up with UTEP (6-5, 3-4) on Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. The Hurricane will end it’s regular season at home on November 26 with a 5:30 p.m. contest against Southern Miss.
TU will also be keeping a close watch on SMU, who holds the tie-breaker after defeating the Hurricane 21-18 on October 9 in Dallas. The Mustangs will close out their season by hosting Marshall (4-6, 3-3) this Saturday and a road game against East Carolina (6-4, 5-1) on November 26.
11:00 1st TU Singleton 2 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
13:17 2nd UH Piland 14 pass to J. Johnson (Hogan kick)
5:09 2nd TU Kinne 4 pass to Owens (Fitzpatrick kick)
3:54 2nd TU Kinne 5 pass to Sears (Fitzpatrick kick)
11:16 3rd UH Hogan 32 FG
4:11 3rd TU Kinne 1 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
2:05 3rd UH Piland 19 pass to Cleveland (Hogan kick)
12:16 4th UH Piland 66 pass to K. Johnson (Piland pass to Edwards)
Southern Miss 31, UCF 21
Marshall 28, Memphis 13
Tulane 54, Rice 49
Arkansas 58, UTEP 14
Idle: East Carolina, UAB, SMU
C-USA STANDINGS (Conference record in parentheses)
WEST DIVISION: 1. SMU 5-5 (4-2), 2. Tulsa 7-3 (4-2), 3. Houston 5-5 (4-3), 4. UTEP 6-5 (3-4), 5. Tulane 4-6 (2-4), 6. Rice 2-8 (1-5).
EAST DIVISION: 1. UCF 7-3 (5-1), 2. East Carolina 6-4 (5-1), 3. Southern Miss 7-3 (4-2), 4. Marshall 4-6 (3-3), 5. UAB 3-7 (2-4), 6. Memphis 1-9 (0-6).