TULSA, OK—TU quarterback Dane Evans threw five touchdown passes and Keevan Lucas crossed into the 1,000 yard club on the way to a 38-28 Golden Hurricane victory over SMU on Saturday afternoon. Some 14,269 fans saw the Golden Hurricane (2-7, 2-4 American) take control of the game in the second quarter and never look back.
It was an inelegant start, however.
After TU went three-and-out on their first possession the visitors took their first play from scrimmage and scored on a 64-yard strike from SMU quarterback Matt Davis to Der’rrik Thompson to give the Mustangs a 6-0 lead, their first lead of the season and what would be their only lead of the game.
The Golden Hurricane took a one-point lead when Evans connected with Keyarris Garrett who took it in 18-yards to the end zone on TU’s third possession. It would be a lead they would never relinquish. In all, Tulsa’s Dane Evans completed 16-of-25 passes for 286 yards and a career-high five touchdowns, including two TD passes each to Keevan Lucas and Keyarris Garrett. Zach Langer rushed for a new career-high with 167 yards, marking the third 100-yard rushing game in the last four contests. Garrett finished with four receptions for 96 yards and Lucas had 88 yards on four catches.
At the 5:05 mark of the third quarter, Evans connected with Keyarris Garrett for a 32-yard touchdown play. It marked the first time that Evans has thrown five touchdown passes and the most for a Tulsa quarterback since G.J. Kinne had five touchdown passes against East Carolina In September 2010.
SMU got close, scoring twice in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap, but the TU defense held tough through the final five minutes. A 24-yard field goal by Carl Salazar put the final points on the board with just over a minute left and summarily the game out of reach.
The Golden Hurricane improve to 2-4 in the American and 2-7 overall, while SMU remains winless on the year.
“I thought he continued to show a lot of poise.” TU head coach Bill Blankenship said of his quarterback after the game, “We’re giving him a lot of freedom to get in and out. Threw a couple of those touchdown throws were checks that he put Keyarris (Garrett) on specifically, because we like the match up, and Keyarris was playing well for us.”
Keevan Lucas crossed the 1,000 yard mark in Saturday’s game. He became the 16th 1,000-yard receiver at Tulsa and the first since Damaris Johnson (2009). Lucas now has 1,017 yards on the season. He surpassed Steve Largent for 15th on Tulsa’s all-time season receiving chart.
Getting the Golden Hurrican’s second win of the 2014 season may have been a long time in coming but it was a welcome one. Next up is two tough tests with UCF and Houston that will be tough ones indeed. Still, Blankenship believes that the win over SMU helped his players believe that winning is possible despite the brutal way the season has gone so far.
“I think the guys have an idea what they want to do with the season.” Blankenship commented, “We talked about what you do in November gives you a chance for what people remember you about.”
“It’s a process. I think everyone knows how to play the game. But college football is a highly competitive format.” Blankenship said, “You have to learn how to close people out. It’s a lot longer game when you think about high school. When you think of high school and the four 12 minute quarters and now you go 15, it’s like playing a whole extra quarter. And for young players there is a loss that, man, you’ve got to do this for a long time. You’ve got to stay focused and you’ve got to grind and you’ve got to be able to not get those critical mistakes that can cost you games.”
The Golden Hurricane will be on the road for two weeks, starting at Central Florida and then traveling to Houston for a game with the Cougars. The next time the Hurricane will be in Chapman Stadium will be on Black Friday, November 29th when they take on the nationally ranked East Carolina Pirates.