Tulsa Clinches C-USA West Title with 48-43 Win at Rice
Nov. 24, 2007
HOUSTON, - It was a high-scoring affair in which the Hurricane came out on top and won its fifth consecutive game and clinched the Conference USA West Division title with a 48-43 victory against the Rice Owls in front of 11,742 fans at Rice Stadium.
The Hurricane will travel to Orlando, Florida, next week to face the UCF Knights in the C-USA Championship Game. UCF won an earlier meeting at home against Tulsa 44-23 on October 20.
It was another record-breaking day for Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith, this time as he snapped Conference USA single season marks for total offense, touchdown passes and passing yards, all coming in the first half.
Smith completed 22-of-39 passes for 441 yards and five touchdowns, while receiver Brennan Marion had the sixth-best receiving performance in school history with 244 ayrds and two TDs. Running back Tarrion Adams had his fifth 100+ rushing game of the year with 146 yards.
In addition to totaling 91 points, the two teams combined for 1,292 yards, as the Owls had 700 yards of total offense on 104 plays and Tulsa racked up 592 yards for a 7.8 yard average per play.
Twenty-six minutes and 51-seconds elapsed from when Tulsa scored its 27th point to its 34th point. Tulsa took a 27-9 lead at the 14:56 mark of the second quarter, and didn't score again until the 3:05 mark of the third quarter. The Hurricane went up by 12 points, 34-22, on a two-yard pass from Smith to Cody Madison.
The Owls responded in 2:02 going 71 yards in five plays as Justin Hill ran five yards for the score, cutting Tulsa's lead to five points again, 34-29.
After a defensive stop by the Hurricane on a fourth down-and-two, the Tulsa offense went 39 yards in four plays as Jamad Williams ran in to the end zone from 13 yards out to give the Hurricane a 41-29 lead. Rice followed with another score of their own going 66 yards in nine plays to make the score 41-36 as C.J. Ugokwe scored from four yards out.
Tulsa put another seven points on the board, making the score 48-36, as Smith threw 19 yards to Trae Johnson in the end zone with 5:43 left in the contest. But, the Owls were not finished as Chase Clement threw 36 yards to Joel Armstrong with 1:44 remaining on the game clock. The drive went 99 yards in eight plays and took just 0:58.
Rice's subsequent onside kick attempt was covered by Tulsa's Adams, thus clinching the victory for the Hurricane.
Tulsa had a chance to go up by 11 points early in the third period as the Hurricane was one-yard away from its 33rd point, but the Hurricane failed to go in for a score on three straight plays from inside the two-yard line.
The Hurricane built a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, and began the second period on the Rice three-yard line. Smith scored from three yards out on the first play of the new quarter giving Tulsa a 27-9 lead.
Tulsa went two possessions without mounting much offense, while the Owls scored its second touchdown at the 5:26 mark of the second quarter on a 12-yard run by C.J. Ugokwe, cutting the Hurricane lead to nine points, 27-16. Rice intercepted a Smith Pass and went 77 yards in five plays and scored on a 25-yard pass from Clement to Jarrett Dillard, The two point conversion pass fell incomplete giving Tulsa a five-point lead, 27-22.
In the first quarter, Smith completed 10-of-11 passes for 218 yards and three TDs, while Marion had four of the catches for 140 yards.
Rice scored on the game's opening possession, as the Clement threw the final 24 yards to tight end Chance Talbert, capping a 72-yard, nine-play drive.
Following a muffed return on a short kick, Tulsa took possession at the Rice 49-yard line and Smith threw the distance on the first play to Brennan Marion for six points. The Jarod Tracy PAT was blocked, and returned by the Owls for two points.
Smith found Marion wide open in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown with just over five minutes gone in the first half. The 51-second drive went 44 yards.
Tulsa scored its first 13 points on just four plays and Brennan Marion caught all three passes for 91 yards, as the two scoring possessions totaled 93 yards.
The Hurricane scored on its third straight possession as Smith threw the final 29 yards of an 80-yard drive. His touchdown strike went to Trae Johnson.
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