Tulsa was inches from an upset

Football is a “game of inches.”

Tulsa was just inches away from upsetting No. 13 Houston Saturday night. TU quarterback Dane Evans hit Jesse Brubaker with 7 seconds left just short of the goal. A touchdown would have sent the game to overtime but the Cougars held on to win 38-31.

“I had full confidence in Jesse (Brubaker), I know he is a defensive lineman, but he is probably one of the best athletes on our team,” said Evans. “I had no doubt that he was going to catch it. I thought he got in, but the rule says it has to be conclusive when they go to review. He didn’t get in, but we never quit. That play sums it up. It doesn’t matter who is catching it, throwing it or who is scoring it. We know we are going to get it done. We were about an inch away.”

Houston built a 31-17 lead midway through the fourth quarter on the third of three rushing touchdowns by RB Dillon Birden, but The Golden Hurricane answered with a pair of scores to tie it with 3:31 left. Houston LB Emeke Egbule scored on a 24-yard fumble return to give the Cougars the lead, and Houston stopped Tulsa inches from the goal line as time expired.

“That was a really good football team riding a lot of momentum off two double overtime wins,” said Houston coach Tom Herman. “They came in with their only loss to Ohio State.

The loss damaged hopes for the Golden Hurricane (4-2, 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference) to win a spot in the conference title game.

Houston totaled 522 yards to Tulsa’s 459. The Hurricane had 365 passing yards as Evans completed 27-of-51 passes with one TD, while the Tulsa rushing attack put up 94 yards against the nation’s fourth-ranked defense. Flanders had a team-high 70 yards on 19 carries, while Evans’ connected eight times to Hobbs for 129 yards.

The Cougars’ Greg Ward Jr. totaled 396 yards with 142 on the ground and 254 through the air, but the senior was held without a touchdown after totaling 17 in Houston’s first six games.

Tulsa hosts Tulane Saturday at 2:45 p.m. in a homecoming game that will air on ESPNU.