Tulsa stays perfect in C-USA with 41-7 win over Houston
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, November 10, 2012
11/10/12 at 9:46 PM
HOUSTON – For a variety of reasons, this one must have been especially satisfying for the University of Tulsa.
Haunted by a history of terrible outcomes in games played on the University of Houston’s home field, the Golden Hurricane hammered the Cougars into submission.
It wasn’t 100-6 – the score of Houston’s unsportsmanlike-conduct conquest of an illness-depleted Tulsa team in 1968 – but it was a dominant performance by the Golden Hurricane.
In their final meeting as Conference USA rivals, TU ruined Houston’s homecoming weekend by rocking the Cougars 41-7 on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.
Quarterback Cody Green and tailback Alex Singleton each scored two rushing touchdowns as the Hurricane recorded its eighth consecutive conference road win.
Senior end Cory Dorris punctuated Tulsa’s outstanding defensive performance with a 22-yard, interception-return TD.
“We played a great game today,” said Dorris, who recovered a fumble and recorded two sacks.
Tulsa improved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in Conference USA. In advance of next week’s home date with East Division-leading UCF, the Golden Hurricane needs one more win to secure the West Division title. TU closes the regular season by visiting SMU on Nov. 24.
The preseason favorite to repeat as the West champion, Houston has sagged to 4-6 overall and 3-3 in C-USA. The Cougars were without two difference-makers – running back Charles Sims, the conference rushing leader who was sidelined with an ankle injury; and cornerback D.J. Hayden, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after having sustained a lacerated artery near his heart. Hayden was injured during practice last week.
Just to become bowl eligible, the Cougars must win next at Marshall (a tough place for visitors) and over visiting Tulane on Nov. 24. In 2013, Houston becomes a member of the Big East Conference.
“Tulsa is probably the most complete football team we have played this season,” Houston coach Tony Levine said.
The Cougars entered the Tulsa game with national rankings of No. 6 in passing and No. 13 in total offense. They did not score on Saturday until the 7:08 mark of the fourth period, when backup quarterback Crawford Jones found Ryan Jackson with a 16-yard pass.
If TU’s Conner Floyd hadn’t mishandled a punt at his own 34-yard line – a Hurricane mistake that was recovered by the Cougars and led directly to the Jackson TD – Houston might have been dealt its first home shutout in 18 years. Tulsa might have celebrated its first road shutout since 1967.
Fresh in the memory of TU wide receiver Jordan James was last year’s Hurricane-Cougar clash in Tulsa. Houston won 48-16, snuffing TU’s bid for a Conference USA West Division title.
“Immediately after the Arkansas game (a TU loss at Fayetteville last week), we put all of our focus on this Houston team,” James said. “We knew we owed Houston something.”
The Hurricane finished with advantages of 505-262 in total yards and 350-78 in rushing yards, along with a time-of-possession cushion of nearly 16 minutes.
With two first-half TDs, Singleton became TU's single-season leader for touchdowns with 18. The 260-pound senior broke Steve Gage's 1985 record of 17.
“Certainly, on the road, it’s the most complete game we've had,” TU coach Bill Blankenship said. “We struggled on offense a little bit early, but the defense kept getting the ball back. Eventually, we found our rhythm on offense.”
Tulsa doused Houston’s homecoming pageantry by driving for a touchdown to end the first half, and by driving for a touchdown to open the second half.
The second-period drive was a 17-play, 90-yard march that consumed nearly six minutes. Twice on third-down plays, the Cougars were flagged for pass interference.
On a third-and-15 snap from the Hurricane 49-yard line, Green connected with James for a 31-yard gain. On third-and-goal from the Houston 1, Singleton barreled into the end zone, giving TU a 17-0 lead. Tulsa safety Dexter McCoil ended the half by intercepting a David Piland pass. It was McCoil’s fourth interception of the season.
The Hurricane received the second-half kickoff. After Singleton ran for 25 yards and Trey Watts ran for 26, Green scored on a 3-yard keeper. The Hurricane cushion was 24-0.
“This is what we’ve been trying to do all season – end the first half in a good way and then start the second half in the same way,” Green said. “The (third-quarter TD) was a statement touchdown.”
On a season-high total of 60 rushing attempts, Tulsa averaged 5.8 yards per attempt. Ja’Terian Douglas ran for 87 yards, Singleton for 79, Zack Langer for 68 and Watts for 57. The Hurricane defense limited Houston to 2.4 yards per rush attempt.
TU's Ja'Terian Douglas keeps running as he taken down during the first half. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World