Averting a third quarter collapse, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane hung on to defeat Central Florida, 45-30, Saturday in American Athletic Conference play at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
“You know, terrific team win; I mean, it took all of us,” said Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery. “I thought we really played a complete game…I loved the competitiveness and the battle that our guys put up. They continued to fight, got momentum back. Put together a good drive running of the football.”
Tulsa (5-4, 2-3 AAC) scored on their first possession, on a 36-yard touchdown strike from Dane Evans to Connor Floyd. It was Floyd’s first TD of the season. Following a UCF field goal, Evans and Floyd connected for a second TD pass play with two-seconds remaining in the first quarter, and Tulsa had a 14-3 lead.
In the second quarter, Tulsa scored on a five-yard touchdown run by Ramadi Warren, and following a UCF fumble that the Golden Hurricane recovered on the UCF 24-yard line, Tulsa settled for a 28-yard field to take a 24-3 lead into halftime.
UCF (0-10, 0-6 AAC) opened the second half by scoring on a two-yard TD run by Taj McGowan. Then the Knights scored on a 19-yard field goal, and an 11-yard TD pass to cut the Tulsa lead, 24-20, at the end of the third quarter.
The Knights ran up 17 unanswered points in the third quarter, making the 16,128 Tulsa fans wonder what happened to their team at halftime. Tulsa coughed up the ball on three consecutive possessions on an interception, fumble and interception.
“Obviously in the third quarter we got three basically back-to-back turnovers, put our defense in a bad bind, really allowed them to get back into the game right there,” said Montgomery. “Those three touchdowns, in my opinion, are on us offensively. I thought our defense played extremely well all game long.”
Tulsa turned things around in the fourth quarter by scoring on their first possession of the final frame, on a one-yard run by Warren, to extend the lead to 31-20. UCF then kicked a 43-yard field goal with 9:32 left in the fourth.
On a Tulsa punt, the ball was mishandled by a UCF player and TU recovered the loose ball. Tulsa then gave the ball to Warren three times, capping it with a two-yard run for his third TD of the game. The redshirt freshman finished with a game high 168 yards on 19 carries.
The most exciting play of the game came with 3:31 left in the fourth quarter as Tulsa’s Michael Mudoh intercepted a UCF pass and returned it 86 yards for a score.
Tulsa finished with 275 yards rushing and 150 passing yards for a total of 425 yards. The Knights totaled 109 rushing, 303 passing, and 412 total yards.
With their fifth win of the season, the Golden Hurricane is now just one win away from being bowl eligible. Tulsa has three games remaining on the schedule.
“I’m excited for our football team,” Montgomery said. “That’s number five for us. That’s what we’ve been counting on and working towards. We still got to go get one more. We’re taking them a week at a time, but this is a big one.”
Interesting note of the game – Tulsa has the smallest undergraduate enrollment of FBS (Division I) schools (3,473), while UCF has the second largest enrollment in the country with just over 60,000.
ORU TV BROADCASTS
Several ORU men’s and women’s basketball games will be available on a wide variety of national broadcast outlets this season. Many games will be carried locally on the school’s own Golden Eagle Broadcasting (Channel 53) and its satellite network. However, local fans will be able to see the Golden Eagles on the road, with games broadcast on ESPN3, SEC Network and FCS.
Here’s a list games with national broadcasts (all times CST).
MEN: Nov. 13, 7 p.m., Missouri State at ORU, ESPN3; Nov. 16, 6:30 p.m., ORU at South Carolina, SEC Network; Dec. 5, 3 p.m., ORU at Tulsa, ESPN3; Dec. 12, 1 p.m., ORU at OU, ESPNU; Dec. 16, 7 p.m., ORU at Missouri St., ESPN3; Dec. 19, 7 p.m., ORU at LSU, SEC Network; Jan. 3, 7 p.m., S.D. at ORU, ESPN3; Jan. 14, 7 p.m., ORU at IUPUI, ESPN3; Jan. 21, 7 p.m., SDSU at ORU, ESPN3; Jan. 23, 7 p.m., Omaha at ORU, ESPN3; Jan. 28, 7 p.m., Fort Wayne at ORU, ESPN3; Feb. 4, 7 p.m., ORU at NDSU, ESPN3; Feb. 11, 7 p.m., IUPUI at ORU, ESPN3; Feb. 19, 7 p.m., Denver at ORU, ESPN3; Feb. 27, 4:30 p.m., ORU at SDSU, ESPN3.
WOMEN: Dec. 10, 7 p.m., ORU at Arkansas, SEC Network; Dec. 17, 7 p.m., ORU at Baylor, FCS; and Dec. 22, 7 p.m., ORU at Kansas, ESPN3.
OILERS AT HOME
The Tulsa Oilers will be home Friday night to host the Allen Americans, 7:05 p.m., at the BOK Center. The Oilers will also be home on Nov. 20 against the Missouri Mavericks. There will be a special pregame concert that night presented by the Tulsa Praise Orchestra, in the BOK Center Grand Lobby, beginning at 6 p.m.