HOUSTON (AP) No. 13 Houston was coming off of its first loss and the Cougars were close to making it two in a row with Tulsa driving in a tie game late in the fourth quarter on Saturday night.
It was then that Houston's defense responded with two huge plays to give the Cougars a 38-31 victory .
The game was tied at 31-31 when Emeke Egbule returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown with 1:21 remaining. Garrett Davis knocked the ball out of the hands of quarterback Dane Evans. Egbule scooped it up and dashed into the end zone for the score.
''I just knew I had to do something with it to keep us in the game,'' Egbule said.
Tulsa (4-2, 1-1 American) had a chance to tie it, but Jesse Brubaker was stopped just short of the goal line after a reception on the last play of the game to seal Houston's victory. The play was reviewed and upheld.
''He was really close ... I don't think you can get any closer than what it was,'' Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said.
It was a close call for the Cougars (6-1, 3-1) a week after Navy beat them 46-40 after a 5-0 start.
''We got the taste out of our mouth,'' Houston coach Tom Herman said.
Tulsa never led, but had twice rallied from 14-point deficits to tie the game. The second time came when James Flanders scored on a 3-yard run with 3:31 left.
''This is one of those games that's tough to swallow,'' Montgomery said. ''It really didn't feel like we lost the football game, it felt like we just ran out of time.''
The Golden Hurricane forced a punt after that, but the fumble by Evans came two plays later.
Herman thought this game was another good reminder for his players that they can't take any team lightly.
''You're going to get their best shot. You've earned that,'' he said. ''Everybody on your schedule is going to play you with their 'A' game. We've got to understand that and understand that even when we're up 17-3 we can't take our foot off the gas.''
TULSA: The Golden Hurricane host Tulane next Saturday.
HOUSTON: The Cougars visit SMU next Saturday.