Tulsa Captures 31-24 Win Over Fresno State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, 2005
Memphis, Tenn. - Tulsa amassed 430 yards and scored 14 points in the final 10:35 of the game to capture a 31-24 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs in the 47th Annual Autozone Liberty Bowl in front of 54,894 fans at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Tulsa ended the season with a 9-4 record, while Fresno State finished with an 8-5 mark on the season. The win for Tulsa was its fifth bowl win in 13 games, and snapped Fresno State's bowl winning streak in consecutive years at three.
"It was a great team victory today. I am so proud of these guys," said Tulsa Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe, who won his first bowl game in two tries in his third season at Tulsa
"The bottom line is turnovers. We did a great job of securing turnovers and made a couple of big plays off of those. We preserved the victory by getting the ball back with about 2:20 left and holding on to the ball. Really, I don't care how long they possessed it because we had it that last time. That was valuable time of possession," added Kragthorpe.
Tulsa sophomore Paul Smith, who completed 18-of-27 passes for 234 yards and one touchdown and scored the winning TD on a four-yard run, was named the Most Valuable Player. Senior Ashlan Davis had his first career 100+ receiving game with 128 yards on eight catches, while being named Tulsa's Offensive Player of the Game and sophomore defensive back Anthony Germany was selected as Tulsa's Defensive Player of the Game after intercepting one pass and breaking up two passes.
Trailing 24-17, the Hurricane early in the fourth quarter, Tulsa gained 162 yards while holding the Bulldogs to 77 yards in the final stanza as the Hurricane tied the score at 24 with 10:35 remaining and went ahead on Smith's TD run with 2:55 left. Fresno State's drive to try to tie the game ended with a Nelson Coleman interception.
Coleman ended the game with 14 tackles and one interception to lead the Hurricane defense.
The Bulldogs dominated time of possession in the game by more than 16 minutes, Fresno State began the scoring with one minute left in the first quarter. For the seventh time this season, a Tulsa opponent got on the scoreboard first as Fresno State marched 54 yards in six plays for a 7-0 lead.
Tulsa responded on the next possession, the first of the second quarter, as the Hurricane went 74 yards in 10 plays and was capped by a 22-yard touchdown run by Uril Parrish.
Tulsa's Tarrion Adams 63-yard touchdown run at the 8:15 mark of the second quarter gave the Hurricane a 14-7 lead. Fresno State responded with a scoring drive as Bryson Sumlin broke open for a 24-yard touchdown run.
Tulsa took a 17-14 lead into halftime as Brad DeVault converted a 41-yard field goal, putting him at 7-of-7 on the season from 40 yards and beyond.
Despite the halftime lead for the Hurricane, it was Fresno State that held more than a 10-minute edge in possession time. But, Tulsa trailed in total offense 215 to 210 yards. The Hurricane averaged 7.7 yards per play, while the Bulldogs averaged 5.7 yards per play in the first half.
The Bulldogs dominated the first 16 minutes of the second half while scoring the first 10 points.
Fresno State tied the game, 17-17, taking the second-half kickoff 49 yards in seven plays. A fake punt attempt by the Hurricane lost six yards, and gave the Bulldogs the ball at the Tulsa 37-yard line. After a tackle for a loss of three yards by Chris Chamberlain on third-and-one at the Tulsa 27-yard line, Fresno State went on fourth down as quarterback Paul Pinegar gained 12 yards for a first down at the 15-yard line.
On Fresno State's next third down situation, the Hurricane defense once again stopped the Bulldogs, but this time Fresno State tried a 26-yard field goal that missed wide right.
Tulsa took the next possession and Smith connected with Ashlan Davis on a 24-yard reception to the Fresno State 28-yard line, but fumbled after a vicious hit. Fresno State marched down the field, completing two big third-and-long plays including third-and-12 and third-and-19 on a 72-yard, 12-play drive. Paul Pinegar threw the final 21 yards to Joe Fernandez to give the Bulldogs a 24-17 lead.
Smith connected with Davis for the game's fifth 20+ yard scoring play, as he threw 54 yards for the scoring play that capped a 67-yard, two-play drive.
After failing to mount any offense on its next possession the Hurricane had to punt. On Fresno State's possession, Anthony Germany intercepted a Pinegar pass giving the Hurricane the ball at the Tulsa 48-yard line.
Tulsa marched 52 yards in eight plays as Smith ran the final four yards jumping into the end zone for what proved to be the winning touchdown. Nelson Coleman's interception with 2:03 remaining ended any hopes for Freshman State as the Hurricane ran out the clock by gaining 42 yards on five plays.
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