Nov. 15, 2008
HOUSTON - In a game that was previewed as a shootout between two of the nation's most exciting offenses, it was the University of Houston football team that lit up the scoreboard early and often as the Cougars routed No. 25/24 Tulsa, 70-30, in front of 20,855 fans at Robertson Stadium.
With the victory, the Cougars (6-4) are bowl eligible for the fourth straight season and sit in a tie with Rice and Tulsa atop the Conference USA West Division standings with a 5-1 league mark.
A week after posting a season-high 693 yards of total offense in a win over Tulane, the Cougar offense remained lethal Saturday by rolling up 641 yards, including 402 through the air from sophomore quarterback Case Keenum, who completed 24-of-34 passes and set a career-high with six touchdowns.
Once again one of Keenum's favorite targets was senior tight end Mark Hafner, who caught eight passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns, but the game was a coming out party for redshirt freshman Tyron Carrier, who piled up a career-high 127 yards and two scores on six receptions. The Houston native also added a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the dying moments of the first half.
The Cougar defense set the tone for the contest on the game's very first drive as they picked off a fake punt attempt by the Golden Hurricane to set their offense up with a first-and-10 at the TU 36-yard line.
Keenum and the UH offense did the rest as the unit reached the end zone in five plays on a four yard completion to Carrier.
UH's defense was also pivotal on the next Golden Hurricane possession as TU was able to drive the ball 74 yards to the doorstep of the Cougar end zone before the UH defenses were able to stuff Tulsa on four straight plays to force a turnover on downs.
With just 19 second remaining in the opening quarter, Hafner found himself wide open in the back of the end zone to cap a seven play, 54-yard drive to push the home advantage to 14-0.
Tulsa (8-2; 5-1 C-USA) was finally able to break the ice on the scoreboard at the 10:33 mark of the second quarter as Jarod Tracy split the uprights on a 35-yard field goal.
The Cougar offense went back to work after the three-pointer and was again potent. Keenum and the Cougar offense moved the ball 60 yards on just five plays, putting points on the scoreboard by virtue of a 29-yard screen pass to Bryce Beall.
Following the score the game began to take on the offensive shootout form to which it was billed as Tulsa got their first touchdown on the night on a 30-yard pass from David Johnson to Charles Clay before the Cougars countered with an 66-yard connection from Keenum to Carrier. The reception was the longest of Carrier's career.
The air show continued as Keenum hooked up with L.J. Castile for a 36-yard score, tying his career-high with five touchdown passes with still 1:21 before halftime.
Tulsa appeared to have cut the lead to 18 at 35-17 heading into the intermission after Johnson found Jacob Collums for a seven-yard score with just 22 seconds on the scoreboard, but a big play in the return game pushed the lead right back to 25. Carrier accounted for his third score of the half as he took the ensuing kickoff 93 yards down the UH sideline to send the teams to the locker room with the Cougars leading 42-17.
Following the break, the Cougars received the opening kickoff of the second half and picked up right where they left off. Hafner made his second visit to pay dirt by hauling in a 13-yard toss from Keenum to put an exclamation point on an 11-play, 86-yard drive.
The Golden Hurricane countered during their attempt to claw their way back into the game, as Johnson found Slick Shelley for a 35-yard touchdown to cut the lead down to 49-24.
However, TU's attempt at an onside kick on the subsequent kickoff appeared successful but was nullified by an offsides call. Back on offense, the Cougars were potent as ever and put seven more points on the scoreboard with a 13 scoring run from sophomore Andre Kohn.
The UH defense came up with another big play to put the next Cougar points on the board as sophomore cornerback Loyce Means picked off his second pass of the night and streaked 69 yards to the end zone. Means added a third interception of the night, his first multi-interception game of his career.
After a Tulsa score made it 63-30, Keenum put the 10th Cougar touchdown of the night on the board as he made it 70-30 with a 6-yard touchdown dash.
The Cougars' season-long three-game home stand concludes next weekend when they entertain UTEP in a 2:30 p.m. contest at Robertson Stadium. Prior to UTEP contest, UH's 19 seniors will be honored before playing in their final game for the Cougars.