TULSA, OK— It was a classic setup on Saturday night in H.A. Chapman Stadium. The TU Golden Hurricane, who had trailed the entire game against the Texas State University Bobcats, were in the red zone with just seconds remaining when quarterback Dane Evans called his own number and crashed through the Bobcat defensive line on a one-yard keeper to tie the game.
The TU offense had effectively erased a 14-point deficit and forced their second overtime of the 2014 season, the other coming on opening night against Tulane. Unfortunately, after the teams knotted the score not once but twice in two overtime rounds, head coach Bill Blankenship’s young team fell short of a second overtime miracle and lost 37-34.
Evans TD capped off a seven minute, 75-yard drive which was arguably the best offense of the game for the Golden Hurricane.
Both teams did not start the game with anything remarkable in terms of offense. Three-and outs were the norm and as a result, both teams were forced to punt on each of their first four possessions of the first quarter. Texas State’s punter managed to drop punts on the TU one yard line twice, and TU punter Dalton Parks planted one of his seven punts in the first half squarely on the Bobcat nine yard line.
As a result of great defense from both teams in the first half, for the first 15 minutes by and large both teams confined the scrimmage between the 30-yard lines.
The first and only touchdown of the first half was scored by the visitors, when the Bobcats Tyler Jones trotted into the TU end zone on a three-yard run to put the visitors up 7-0 after the kick.
Indeed, Texas State dominated the middle two quarters of the contest. Texas State extended its lead to 14-0 on its first drive of the second half. TU kicker Carl Salazar set the Golden Hurricane on the road to the eventual equalizer with a 20-yard field goal, then Texas State’s Terrence Franks scored on a six-yard run to complete a 9-play 72-yard drive.
After that the Bobcats added a 49-yard field goal with 2:58 left in the third period to extend its lead to 17-3 and the Golden Hurricane seized control in the game’s final stanza.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the ball game Evans found junior Connor Floyd on a 10-yard strike in the end zone to bring cut the Bobcat advantage to seven points, and after the Golden Hurricane defense forced the Bobcats to punt, Tulsa took over on its own 25-yard line and began the game tying drive.
Saturday’s game was the second overtime contest of the season for Tulsa, and first triple overtime game since 2004. TU opened this season with a 38-31 double overtime victory over Tulane. The Hurricane dropped its only other triple overtime contest, 54-48, at Nevada on Oct. 23, 2004.
It was a tough loss across the board, considering the amount of effect the Golden Hurricane exerted to come back and tie the game. That fact was not lost on Coach Blankenship as he made his comments after the game.
“Yeah, we got into some situations that we kind of blocked ourselves out of taking some shots and doing some things and we had a series where we got some really unfortunate penalties that put us behind the chains in the first half.” Blankenship said. “But we fought really hard in this game and I thought the second half was indicative of what we thought we could do.
“I was very proud of the offensive line, and the running backs I thought really deserve a lot of kudos from the way they went about those drives, because there was a lot of spit in your hands and let’s just keep running it.”
The loss puts the Hurricane at 1-3 on the year and 1-0 in the American. From here TU heads to Fort Collins Colorado to take on the Rams, whom defeated Boston College 24-21 on Saturday. Colorado State was one of only three teams that the Golden Hurricane defeated last year and Blankenship knows things must change if they are going to go on the road and nab a win.
“We know that the reality is that we need to focus on the results of growing the team. The disappointing thing is looking at the record at this point, but this is about the team.” Blankenship commented. “We’re a much improved team than where we were two weeks ago. We’re starting to see some things blossom.
“I thought defensively we played really well for the bulk of the game. That’s something we needed to see. We really sputtered early, on offense, trying to get it going and then I thought we gained our confidence. After halftime, we got the ball and we got some points, we thought we would kind of break loose a little bit and we became a much more confident team at that point.”
After Colorado State the team resumes their conference schedule when they travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple. They will return home to take on USF on October 18th for homecoming.