A tough schedule seems to be getting tougher for Tulsa coach Phillip Montgomery in his first season here.
The Golden Hurricane are in the West Division of the American Athletic Conference and three teams – Memphis, Navy and Houston – have a combined record of 13-0. In the East Division, only Temple (4-0) is undefeated.
Tulsa fell to Houston last Saturday, 38-24, to even their record to 2-2. Tulsa hosts The University of Louisiana – Monroe at 5 p.m. Saturday in a nonconference matchup.
ULM had lopsided losses to SEC powers Georgia (14-51) and Alabama (0-34) plus a 47-0 win over Nicholls State. The Warhawks lost to Georgia Southern, 31-51 last Saturday.
Just four hours before the Georgia Southern game, ULM coach Todd Berry heard of the death of walkon quarterback Daniel Fitzwater. Fitzwater had hurt his knee in the preseason and was out for the year. The cause of death has not been revealed.
“He was a great young man,” Berry said after the game. “He worked hard and had a lot of friends on the team. Obviously there was no time to grieve – it was just shock. Obviously we didn’t play as well as we needed to and I understand, quite honestly, some of it because it was hard just going out on the field before the ballgame. It was hard enough to coach. I can’t imagine what it was like to try and play. So we’ll bounce back.”
Against Houston, Tulsa finished with 456 yards of total offense marking the first time the Hurricane offense has been held below 600 yards this season. Tulsa failed to score in the second quarter, marking the first time this season that the offense has not scored in a quarter.
Quarterback Dane Evans finished with 326 passing yards (26 of 44 attempts) for his seventh career 300-yard game. Evans now has 36 career passing touchdowns.
TU receiver Keevan Lucas was injured during the game and that slowed the TU momentum.
“You know, I mean it’s a big loss obviously,” Montgomery said. “I mean that guy is a tremendous football player and even better kid. It affects us. When you lose such an important weapon to what you do, it’s always going to be a factor, and so as far as his prognosis goes, you know, I’ve talked to the doctors. We’ll get the MRI. We’ll kind of see how it goes from there. But I’m extremely concerned.”
“When Keevan went down I think it shocked us all,” said Evans. “He is our superman and the guy has been through a lot. We will figure out what is wrong with him and what we need to do from there. It threw us off a little but it’s not his fault, that’s just how football goes. We, as an offense, just need to say, ‘next guy up’ and keep rolling.”
Running back Zack Langer rushed 19 times for 62 yards but had three touchdown runs. Langer has eight TDs this season.
“We didn’t run the football effectively,” Montgomery said. “We ended up in some third-down situations that we should take advantage of, especially when we’re third and short, that we ended up getting stopped. And that’s just — that’s a mentality. You know, that’s really all that is. I mean we gotta dig down, dig guys out of there, go get a yard, go get two yards, whatever that is. But again, you know, we had our chances still with all of that being said, and we just – we never got – we never took advantage of them.”
Houston had 638 yards on 94 plays, including 365 rushing and 273 passing. UH quarterback Greg Ward Jr. passed for 273 yards and rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Kenneth Farrow gained 159 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Houston coach Tom Herman was happy with the road win.
“Winning a conference game on the road against an unbelievable offense like that is always difficult,” Herman said. “So, we are going to celebrate this win and we are going to celebrate the heck out of it. I have learned in almost my 20 years of coaching that winning is really hard, and you have to celebrate it because it’s the fun part”