Turnovers by North Carolina A&T and some great play by the Tulsa defense characterized the first half of the game on Saturday as the Golden Hurricane cruised to a 58-21 win over the Aggies.
There were 16,111 fans in attendance on what was a beautiful afternoon at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
“I thought really another good overall team win,” said Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery. “I thought we made plays obviously on special teams there early in the game, which kind of really kicked the momentum to our side. Defensively we played lights out. I thought especially early in the game.”
In the first half, Tulsa took advantage of two blocked punts and two interceptions to build a 48-0 lead at halftime. Tulsa’s McKinley Whitfield blocked an NC A&T punt and Rowdy Simon’s recovery gave the offense their second possession in the game. Whitfield also snagged an interception in the first half.
“He’s really growing as a player, as I think our defense, in terms of the whole defense, are growing that way,” said Montgomery. “They have taken a lot of pride in what they are doing. McKinley is progressing at the rate that we want him to. He ended up taking a lot of snaps today. I think he’s going to continue that trend. Other guys made big plays in there, as well.”
Whitfield said blocking punts and looking for that weakness in the Aggies offense was something they practice all week.
“Just all week, with Coach (Calvin) Lowry preaching to me, he drew the block punt up and all week long he was saying, ‘McKinley just get there and we can practice it all week.’ So luckily, in the game he called it; the first one,” said Whitfield. “(Matt) Hickman and Cooper (Edmiston) did their jobs and I slipped through and got a hand on the ball.”
Unlike playing at Ohio State the week before, there were no moral victories in this game – it was all a confidence building win. It proved to the Golden Hurricane they can play with the big boys, as NC A&T came into the game ranked No. 19 in the FCS.
Tulsa (2-1) quarterback Dane Evans completed 19-of-29 passes for 282 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Keevan Lucas caught four passes for 119 yards with three touchdowns and Justin Hobbs caught seven passes for 114 yards.
Evans said the game against Ohio State left a bad taste in his mouth, and it was good to get rid of that in this game.
“Coach Monty kind of said it all week, after a week like last week, nothing seems right,” said Eavns. “The days don’t seem right, food doesn’t taste the same, music doesn’t sound good, and you just don’t want to talk about it anymore. You just want to go out and play on Saturday, and you want to get that taste out of your mouth, and that’s exactly what we did today. And now that we got that taste out of our mouth, we’re ready to go for next week and to keep this thing rolling.”
The Golden Hurricane picked up 493 yards of total offense in the game while holding NC A&T to 368 total yards.
The leading rusher for Tulsa was D’Angelo Brewer who carried the ball 14 times for a total of 60 yards, but James Flanders carried the ball seven times for 32 yards and two touchdowns.
The Aggies (2-1) starting quarterback, Lamar Raynard, completed 11-of-21 passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.
The Golden Hurricane travels to Fresno, California, on Saturday to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m.