Spears, Johnson lead No. 19 Tulane past Tulsa, 27-13

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TULSA, Okla. – Tyjae Spears ran for 157 yards and a touchdown and Shaadie Clayton-Johnson gained 106 to lead No. 19 Tulane to a 27-13 win over Tulsa on Saturday.

Tulane (8-1, 5-0 American Athletic Conference) had lost the past two meetings with Tulsa (3-6, 1-4) in overtime, but controlled this one with a dominant running game.

The Hurricane gained 357 yards on the ground, with Spears and Johnson each running the ball 14 times.

“Our offensive line did a terrific job,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “Bodies on bodies is a big part of it.”

Tulsa had won seven of the first eight home games with Tulane.

Michael Pratt completed 11 of 19 passes for 125 yards for Tulane. He was victimized by a walk-off interception return for a touchdown in overtime two seasons ago.

Fritz didn’t worry about the losses in the past two years.

“Each year is different, said Fritz. “This is the 2022 Tulane Green Wave, and this is the 2022 Tulsa Golden Hurricane. We have to do a good job of flushing those down the toilet and playing and not worrying about the past successes or failures and playing the best that you can.”.

Tulsa was playing without starting quarterback Davis Brin, who has been banged up but hadn’t missed a game in the last two years. Brin had beaten Tulane the last two years.

Braylon Braxton couldn’t rally the faltering Golden Hurricane, completing 13 of 25 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.

Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said playing Tulane can be frustrating.

“Defensively, they did a good job on us,” Montgomery said. “They can really eat up the clock when they get the lead..

Tulane had taken a two-touchdown lead on Spear’s 34-yard touchdown run. Tulsa cut it to 17-10 at halftime on Braxton’s 28-yard touchdown pass to JuanCarlos Santana.

But Tulane went up 24-10 on its first possession of the second half on a 20-yarder from Pratt to Shae Wyatt, and was never threatened again.

THE TAKEAWAY

TULANE: The Green Wave took care of business after two straight rough losses to Tulsa and kept the game safely away from overtime territory.

TULSA: Held to 257 total yards in Brin’s absence against the league’s top defense, well under the 434.2 yards a game the Hurricane were averaging coming into the game.

BRIN MISSES GAME

The Green Wave benefitted from not having to face Brin, who victimized Tulane the last two years. Brin has been banged up this year. The first meaningful action of his career came against Tulane, and his 37-yard Hail Mary at the end of regulation in 2020 forced the game into overtime.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Tulane could move up a little in the polls by improving to 8-1.

GOING FOR IT

Fritz wasn’t shy about going for it on fourth down in the first half, and both gambles paid off. On 4th and 2 from its own 35 in the first quarter, the punt team was out but a quick huddle and snap gained 3 yards, leading to a field goal. The second one came on 4th and 2 at its own 42 in the second quarter. A completed pass by Pratt led to a Tulane TD and a 17-3 lead.

UP NEXT

Tulane hosts No. 25 UCF on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Tulsa has a short turnaround before visiting Memphis on Thursday.

No. 2 Cincinnati holds off Tulsa 28-20 to improve to 9-0

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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CINCINNATI – Desmond Ridder threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns and No. 2 Cincinnati held off Tulsa 28-20 on Saturday.

Alec Pierce had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown to help the Bearcats (9-0, 5-0 American Athletic) extend the nation’s second-longest home winning streak to 25 games.

Shamari Brooks rushed for 132 yards for Tulsa (3-6, 2-3), and Anthony Watkins ran for 105.

When Tulsa was stopped short on fourth down at the 4, it appeared the Bearcats would just run out the clock. But Ridder fumbled on a sneak, giving the Golden Hurricane life.

On fourth-and-goal from the 1, Steven Anderson fumbled as he was reaching for the goal line, and Jabari Taylor made the recovery for a touchback.

The Bearcats beat Tulsa 27-24 on a last-second field goal in the AAC championship game last season.

The game Saturday didn’t feel like it would be that close when rushing TDs by Ridder and Jerome Ford put the Bearcats ahead 14-0.

The Bearcats had a rough series in the second quarter when Ridder was sacked twice and leading rusher Jerome Ford was helped off with an apparent left leg injury. He did not return.

Brooks’ 8-yard TD run capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive by Tulsa late in the first half and cut the Bearcats’ lead to 14-9, but the point-after attempt was missed.

Zack Long connected on a 50-yard field goal and Tulsa trailed 14-12 at halftime. It was the second straight week that the Bearcats led 14-12 at halftime.

Cincinnati outgained Tulsa 165-36 in the first quarter but was outgained 120-66 in the second.

Ridder and the Bearcats responded with touchdown passes to Pierce and Michael Young Jr. to go ahead 28-12.

But Tulsa wasn’t finished.

Davis Brin threw a 21-yard TD pass to JuanCarlos Santana and the 2-point conversion to bring the Golden Hurricane to 28-20 with eight minutes left.

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane relied on the ground game to keep the Bearcats’ high-powered offense off the field. It was the fifth time this season that Tulsa has rushed for 200 or more yards.

Cincinnati: After relatively close wins the past two weeks against Navy and Tulane, the Bearcats needed an impressive performance to sway the playoff committee. But Saturday’s performance isn’t likely to move the needle.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Cincinnati is ranked No. 2 for the third consecutive week. But the Bearcats are more concerned with their No. 6 ranking in the first College Football Playoff rankings, which they felt was disrespectful.

Brawl mars Mississippi State’s Armed Forces win over Tulsa

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas — A bowl victory that increased Mississippi State’s win total this season to four and No. 22 Tulsa’s failed attempt to add another unlikely comeback to its impressive collection this season took a back seat to the melee that broke out Thursday shortly after the Armed Forces Bowl ended.

True freshman Will Rogers scored his first rushing touchdown of the season and had a 13-yard TD pass to lead Mississippi State past Tulsa 28-26 in a game that was tense from the start.

Minutes after it ended, the teams became involved in a large brawl on the field, with players punching and kicking one another. Tulsa coach Greg Montgomery said sophomore safety Kendarin Ray, who was helped off the field after being at the bottom of a dogpile during a scrum, was treated for “some sort of concussion.”

“I’m not sure what exactly caused that,” said Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, who referred to the altercation as a “mosh pit.” “It was something before the game, too. We’ve never had any problem with that the entire season, so I can only guess without seeing the film.”

In a video posted from Mississippi State’s locker room, Malik Heath joked about kicking a Tulsa player in the facemask.

“The one thing I’ll say is our program, our guys, we’re a team that are going to stand up for each other and we’re going to battle,” Montgomery said. “We talk about faith, family, football, and family’s going to take care of family. We’re a team that has battled all year long. We battled again today. From that standpoint, our guys are going to continue to protect each other and go from there.”

American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement that the league will work with Tulsa to “conduct a thorough review of the altercation pursuant to our Conference Code of Sportsmanship process and expect that the university will respond accordingly.”

Jo'Quavious Marks scored a rushing touchdown on the game’s first possession and Emmanuel Forbes returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown for the Bulldogs (4-7), who finished the season with a second straight win in a game played at TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in cold, rainy conditions.

Mississippi State’s 148 passing yards were its fewest of the season. Marks’ 72 rushing yards and his 28-yard run for the touchdown were the most in each category this season for the Bulldogs, whose 36-yard rushing average going into bowl play was the lowest in the FBS.

Forbes’ third-quarter touchdown was initially called back on an illegal blocking penalty, but the Big Ten Conference officiating crew reversed its ruling to a penalty on Tulsa.

Deneric Prince and Corey Taylor II scored rushing touchdowns, Zach Smith had a 15-yard TD pass to Keylon Stokes and Zack Long kicked field goals of 27 and 33 yards for Tulsa (6-3, No. 24 CFP), which erased four double-digit deficits this season.

Smith was 26 for 46 passing for 347 yards with two interceptions. Tulsa outgained Mississippi State in total offense 484 yards to 271, but the Bulldogs got 138 valuable kickoff return yards from Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin.

Tulsa pulled to within 21-19 with 12:30 left on Taylor’s 5-yard run, but Smith’s two-point conversion pass intended for Stokes was broken up in the end zone. Mississippi State answered with Rogers’ 13-yard throw to Griffin to go ahead 28-19.

Smith’s 15-yard scoring pass to Stokes came with 1:23 to play, and Tulsa failed to recover the ensuing onside kick. On the play, Mississippi State’s Erroll Thompson leveled Tulsa’s Ryan Nixon and was penalized 15 yards for taunting.

“It’s just dumb,” Leach said. “There was some stuff going back and forth during the course of the game. With any of it on our side, I don’t want to see it because I feel like I got shorted, what, 15 yards, 30 yards on deals where if we could keep our mouth shut, you know.”

During the brawl, Mississippi State’s De'Monte Russell, in street clothes beneath his jersey, ripped the helmet off Tulsa’s TieNeal Martin and appeared to land a punch to Martin’s head.

“Coach Leach addressed us as a team after the game, and we will handle that in-house,” Kobe Jones said. “It was emotional and a mishap. We have to be better and more disciplined.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Tulsa: A team that was picked to finish ninth in the 11-team American Athletic Conference played in the league championship game, losing to Cincinnati on a last-second field goal. The Golden Hurricane will wait to see if they finish in the final AP Top 25 of the season for the first time since 2010.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs played in their school-record 11th consecutive bowl thanks to pandemic qualification exemptions. The four wins are the Bulldogs’ fewest since 2008, the last of Sylvester Croom’s five seasons coaching in Starkville.

UP NEXT

Tulsa: Among the seniors who have committed to returning in 2021 are running back Shamari Brooks, fifth in program career rushing despite missing all of 2020 with an ACL injury, and free safety TieNeal Martin. Next season, the Golden Hurricane will visit Oklahoma State and Ohio State.

Mississippi State: For all of Leach’s Air Raid offenses at various stops, Rogers was his first true freshman quarterback. The Bulldogs’ Southeastern Conference home schedule should include visits by Alabama and Mississippi.