TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Tulsa's victory over Tulane did more than
just snap a three-game losing streak. It completed a remarkable
reversal for what four years ago was one of the nation's most
TU's 20 seniors, including 12 starters, have won 29 games,
including Friday's 38-3 victory over the Green Wave, and are headed
for their third bowl game in the past four years.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of these seniors and what
they've accomplished," said coach Steve Kragthorpe, who took over
the program in 2003. "We're 4-0 now on Senior Day. I don't think
anyone in their right mind would have envisioned four years ago
that these guys would win 17 games their last two years. Now we're
going after 18."
Which of the four bowl games TU (8-4, 5-3 CUSA) is eligible for
will depend on other conference results this weekend.
In Friday's game, Tulsa limited Tulane to just 152 yards total
offense. The Green Wave entered the game averaging 261.8 passing
yards per game, but quarterback Lester Ricard completed just 10 of
21 for 78 yards.
"You have to give Tulsa credit," Ricard said. "They played a
great game and really kept the pressure on me. ... It was just
Led by quarterback Paul Smith, Tulsa had 191 yards on the ground
and 267 yards passing. Smith completed 14 of 20 for 215 yards and a
touchdown and did not have an incompletion in the second half.
The win stopped a three-game slide for Tulsa, which had high
hopes of repeating as C-USA champions until losses to Houston, Rice
and SMU. Senior defensive back Nick Graham said the Hurricane could
not complain about being 8-4.
"We let a few get away, but I'm sure there are 50 teams out
there wishing they were 8-4 and heading to a bowl game," Graham
Tulsa led 17-0 at halftime, then held Tulane to a field goal
after a time-consuming drive to open the second half. Tulsa put the
game away with touchdowns on its next two possessions, a 5-yard run
by Courtney Tennial followed by a 25-yard pass from Smith to Cody
Tulsa limited Tulane to 68 yards and five first downs in
building a 17-0 halftime lead.
The Hurricane converted on a fake punt to spark a 77-yard
scoring drive on its first possession, capped by a 1-yard plunge by
Brandon Diles. The lead swelled on a career-long 50-yard field goal
by Jarod Tracy and a 1-yard run by Tennial.