The first half of the Tulsa game was weird. There’s no other way to say it: flat-out weird. For the most part, UH was outplayed in those first 30 minutes. Dropped deep passes, bounced short passes, missed tackles, and busted coverage killed any chance to get on track. But the Coogs were able to run for 7.8 ypc in the half (179 yards on 23 rushes) and held a 17-13 halftime lead.
Right before the half, Major Applewhite passed on a chance to call timeout and force Tulsa to punt. And perhaps D’Eriq King could take a shot or two. But at the very least, make them punt, right?
Nope. Very weird.
Yet that first half can’t compare to the strangeness of the next 21 minutes of play. Tulsa coach Phillip Montgomery decided to come out of the half and use the same strategy Rice did to start the 3rd quarter of the opener: milk the clock, run right at us, and wear down the UH defense.
Rice came out in the 3rd quarter with a 13-play drive that lasted 7 minutes and led to a field goal. Tulsa started the second half with a 13-play drive that lasted over 5.5 minutes and also led to a field goal. In both games, UH responded with a three-play drive: a quick-strike touchdown vs Rice and a punt against Tulsa.
In each game, the UH opponent came back for another sustained drive. Rice went on a seven-play drive but missed a FG. Tulsa held it for 10 plays and scored a TD. Against Rice, UH held the ball for just 6 plays in the 3rd quarter but managed 14 points. In the Tulsa game, the Coogs had it 6 snaps (technically 5 since an illegal touching penalty resulted in a loss of a down) for just 7 yards. No points.
Tulsa had improved on the Rice strategy. In all, Tulsa had the ball over 12 minutes in the 3rd quarter. They scored 10 points and ran 28 plays for 174 yards. And the Cougar defense missed over 10 tackles in the quarter – 8 on the first drive alone.
As the quarter ended, the Golden Hurricane led by six and were in the red zone looking to punch it in. If they scored a TD, the two-point conversion chart says to go for two there. If Tulsa goes up 14 points, and judging by the UH performance to that point, the game might have been over.
The 4th quarter started with Tulsa facing a 2nd-and-9 from the 19. Running back Corey Taylor goes for 3 yards setting up a manageable 3rd-and-6. But then, inexplicably, Tulsa jumped. So now 3rd-and-11.
Except Tulsa jumped again. 3rd-and-16.
Montgomery stayed with his running game and Taylor picked up 8 yards. They kicked a field goal and now led by 9.
In a fairly quiet stadium that had emptied out quite a bit, Tulsa gets 2 false start penalties back to back in/near the red zone in the 4th quarter. It killed their drive and, eventually, their momentum.
Extended Tulsa Coverage
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