TU uses big third quarter to pound UTEP
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, October 12, 2012
10/12/12 at 3:50 AM
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Related story: John Klein: Tulsa’s old-fashioned new style is working.
Until the midway mark of the third quarter Thursday, the University of Tulsa flirted with the possibility of seeing its five-game winning streak dissolve into a one-game disaster.
During the first half, the Golden Hurricane was wholly unimpressive, mustering only two field goals and a 6-3 halftime lead over the UTEP Miners.
During the third quarter, however, the Hurricane reminded an H.A. Chapman Stadium crowd of 18,961 why the Miners were 16 1/2-point underdogs.
Within a span of slightly more than seven minutes, Tulsa struck for three touchdowns. There was a 1-yard run by power back Alex Singleton, there was an 81-yard dash by Ja'Terian Douglas (perhaps the fastest man on the TU roster), and there was a 17-yard fumble return by linebacker Shawn Jackson.
And, ultimately, at the end of a somewhat disjointed Conference USA football game, there was a 33-11 Golden Hurricane victory.
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship says the halftime message to his players centered on a need for more passion.
"We encouraged them to execute a little better and to finish drives," Blankenship said. "And just play with passion. I wanted more passion. Just play hard. We just didn't cut loose."
The Hurricane players' collective halftime sentiment, according to middle linebacker DeAundre Brown: "This isn't cutting it."
With two touchdowns (the second one a 10-yarder with 8:46 left to play), Singleton tied TU's program record for career rushing TDs. With 32, he joins Tarrion Adams (2005-08) and Michael Gunter (1980-83) in the record book.
"(Singleton) has inserted himself in the three-man rotation, as opposed to just being a guy we needed at certain times," Blankenship said. "He has really become a force for us. It has given us a whole new dimension - kind of like throwing a curveball or a changeup."
Said Singleton, whose seven-game totals amount to 432 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns: "I've been here for four years now, and my mentality (has) changed. I have a wife and family at home right now, so I have more to play for. My mind is all in."
As Brown finished with 14 tackles and three sacks, the Hurricane improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the league. UTEP (1-6, 0-3) finally scored its first offensive touchdown since the first quarter of its Sept. 29 loss to East Carolina.
"I thought that we showed a lot of courage. We were tough as a team," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "The defense played as well as anybody that has played against Tulsa this year."
Tulsa (6-1, 4-0) finished with 479 total yards, averaging 6.2 per play. Douglas carried 13 times for 128 yards, while Singleton netted 96 yards on 21 attempts. Hurricane quarterback Cody Green was 13-of-22 passing for 198 yards, but his yardage total was padded by a late connection with tailback Zack Langer. After collecting a short throw from Green, Langer - a former Jenks High School star - eluded defenders and dashed for a 55-yard gain down the Hurricane sideline.
At Marshall last week, Tulsa's wide receivers had a combined total of only four catches. On Thursday, the wide receivers had six catches. The biggest play involving a wideout was Thomas Roberson's 41-yard reception, but he lost a fumble at the end of the play.
The Hurricane secondary gave up a 61-yard touchdown pass, with Miner backup quarterback Carson Meger connecting with Jordan Leslie. On a combined total of 27 completions, Meger and UTEP starter Nick Lamaison passed for 376 yards.
Tulsa's run defense was brilliant. The Miners mustered only 31 yards on 33 attempts. Brown had yet another strong performance, totaling 14 tackles and three sacks, while cornerback Lowell Rose had an end-zone interception that snuffed a UTEP scoring threat in the third quarter.
When Rose got the interception, the Tulsa lead was only 13-3.
Two plays later, on a speed sweep with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter, Douglas got loose for his 81-yard touchdown sprint. At the 2:21 mark, after Tulsa end Jared St. John pressured Meger into a fumble, Jackson scooped the loose ball and scored to make it a 26-3 difference.
"It was a hard game to get into the flow of," Blankenship said. "It's not always pretty, but it's effective."
TULSA 33, UTEP 11
Vs. Rice 2:30 p.m Oct. 20 TV: FSOK-27 Radio: KRMG am740, fm102.3
Original Print Headline: Pulling away
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Ja’Terian Douglas’ 81-yard touchdown run in the third quarter helped TU pull away from UTEP on Thursday night. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Tulsa’s Trey Watts gets loose from UTEP’s Shane Huhn during the first half Thursday. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World