Tulsa took its first lead of the game in the second overtime and Dane Evans' eight-yard pass to Conner Floyd proved to be the winning score, as the Golden Hurricane held off Tulane 38-31 in double overtime in front of 19,032 fans Thursday night at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
Senior safety Demarco Nelson intercepted Tulane quarterback Tanner Lee on second down of the ensuing Green Wave possession to seal the season-opening victory for the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa tied the game at 28 with 2:53 remaining in regulation when Evans found Keevan Lucas for a three-yard touchdown, and then hit Josh Atkinson at the front corner of the end zone for the 2-point conversion. The Hurricane completed the comeback after it had trailed 21-7 in the second quarter, and 21-14 at the half.
The teams traded field goals on the south end of Chapman Stadium, before moving to the north end for the second extra period. Tulsa ran a five-play possession, capped by Floyd's score. It was the first career touchdown for the junior receiver.
Lucas' touchdown near the end of regulation was his third of the game. The sophomore receiver caught 13 passes totaling 233 yards. Evans threw for 238 yards, completing 31-of-53 passes, and tossing four touchdowns in the game. It was the most passing yards for a TU quarterback since Sept. 20, 2008 when David Johnson threw for 369 yards against New Mexico.
Tulsa (1-0, 1-0 American) won its American Athletic Conference debut, defeating fellow conference newcomer Tulane (0-1, 0-1 American). It was also the first season opening victory for the Hurricane since the 2009 opener, when it beat Tulane 37-13 in New Orleans.
For the game, the Golden Hurricane piled up 592 yards of offense, including 154 rushing yards. Junior Tavarreon Dickerson picked up the bulk of those ground yards, carrying 15 times for 84 yards. Sophomore linebacker Trent Martin led TU with 12 tackles, while junior safety Michael Mudoh added 10 tackles.
Tulane totaled 516 yards, including 262 yards passing and three touchdowns by Lee. Sherman Badie led the Green Wave with 215 yards rushing on 15 carries. Justyn Shackleford had eight receptions for 113 yards.
Tulsa appeared to score first, but the six points from an apparent 31-yard touchdown pass to Tavarreon Dickerson was erased due to offensive pass interference.
Tulane put the first points on the scoreboard following a Tulsa turnover with a two-play, 20-yard drive that covered 0:15 off the clock. Tanner Lee threw the final 15 yards to Charles Jones for the score at the 3:43 mark of the first period.
The Green Wave increased its lead to 14-0 on an 80-yard, 14-play drive that was capped by a one-yard Donte Butler pass from Tanner Lee.
Tulsa's first two chances to score failed in missed field goals, covering 34 and 23 yards.
Evans connected with Lucas on a 43-yard touchdown to put the Hurricane on the scoreboard, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive. But the Green Wave wasted little time to counter with their third score of the day on the first play from scrimmage, a 90-yard Sherman Badie run.
Tulsa took possession with 1:01 left on the first-half clock and on the second play from scrimmage, Evans connected on a second TD pass to Keevan Lucas, this time covering 84 yards, and with the extra point brought Tulsa to within seven points at 21-14. The 84-yarder was the longest pass play for the Hurricane since the 2008 season when David Johnson connected on a 97-yard pass to Brennan Marion against UTEP.
Despite trailing by seven points at halftime, Tulsa held a slight edge in total yards, 298-281. The Hurricane threw for 244 yards and had 54 rushing yards, while Tulane gained 144 yards rushing and 137 via the air.
Carl Salazar knocked through his first career attempt past 40 yards with a 42-yarder with 8:15 left in the third quarter to pull with four points of the Green Wave, 21-17. Salazar added three more points with a 26-yard field goal at the 8:31 mark of the third period to cut the Tulane lead to one point at 21-20.
Three plays later Tulane's Lee threw to a wide-open Xavier Rush who got behind the defenders and proceeded to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown and an eight-point Tulane lead of 28-20 with 6:50 remaining in the game.
Evans marched the Hurricane down the field for a 77-yard, 11-play drive, that saw the Hurricane score on 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line as Evans hit Lucas for the pairs third TD of the game cutting the Tulane lead to two points at 28-26. Evans hit Josh Atkinson for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 28 with 2:52 left in the contest.
Team Qtr Time Play Score
TLN 1 3:43 Charles Jones 15 pass from Tanner Lee (DiRocco PAT) 0-7
TLN 2 9:56 Donte Butler 1 pass from Tanner Lee (DiRocco PAT) 0-14
Tulsa 2 7:11 Keevan Lucas 43 pass from Dane Evans (Salazar PAT) 7-14
TLN 2 6:51 Sherman Badie 90-yard run (DiRocco PAT) 7-21
Tulsa 2 0:37 Keevan Lucas 84 pass from Dane Evans (Salazar PAT) 14-21
Tulsa 3 8:15 Carl Salazar 42 FG 17-21
Tulsa 4 8:31 Carl Salazar 26 FG 20-21
TLN 4 6:50 Xavier Rush 60 pass from Tanner Lewis (DiRocco PAT) 20-28
Tulsa 4 2:52 Keevan Lucas 3 pass from Dane Evans (Evans to Atkinson) 28-28
TLN OT 0:00 Andrew DiRocco 30 FG 28-31
Tulsa OT 0:00 Carl Salazar 26 FG 31-31
Tulsa 2OT 0:00 Conner Floyd 8 pass from Dane Evans (Salazar PAT) 38-31