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Tulsa Beats Tulane In Come-From-Behind, Double-Overtime Thriller

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It's been more than a year since the Tulsa Golden Hurricane has had much to smile about. But after a wild and crazy Thursday night, the optimism might be endless.

Sophomore receiver Keevan Lucas set a new American Athletic Conference record with 233 receiving yards and three touchdowns as the Golden Hurricane scratched and clawed their way to a 38-31 double-overtime win over Tulane in TU's first-ever game as a member of the AAC.

RELATED STORY: Tulsa Tops Tulane In 2OT: Instant Analysis

One of the biggest questions entering Thursday's opener was how quarterback Dane Evans would play as the full-time starter. He got off to a blazing start.

Evans went 5/9 for 44 yards on TU's opening drive, only to have Carl Salazar pull a 34-yard field goal to the left.

On Tulsa's second possession – not so hot. Evans' pass was picked off by Taurean Nixon, who returned it deep into TU territory. Two plays later, Tanner Lee found Charles Jones for a 15-yard touchdown and Tulane took a 7-0 lead.

Tulsa answered by driving right back down the field, but once again, Salazar missed. This time from just 23 yards and the Golden Hurricane's frustration level was growing.

Coincidentally, Salazar began the 2013 season by missing both of his field-goal attempts against Bowling Green, but responded by making 16 of his final 17 on the season.

Tulane took the ball back early in the second quarter and marched right down the field. The Wave marched on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ate more than six minutes off of the clock. It was capped by Lee finding Dante Butler for a 1-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

Even though it was only the second quarter, the Golden Hurricane's ensuing drive had a make-or-break feel to it. And Evans made it happen.

On second down from the Tulane 43, Evans launched one over the top to a wide-open Lucas, who snagged it in the end zone for a Tulsa touchdown. This was just the beginning of a historic day for Lucas.

But right back came Tulane; and fast. Freshman running back Sherman Badie took the opening play of the Green Wave drive 90 yards all the way to the house. It marked the first time since Sept. 4, 1993 that TU allowed a touchdown run of 90 or more yards.

Just when it looked like things were slipping away, TU ended the half with a flurry. With just over a minute to play and the Green Wave inside the red zone, Tulsa's Jeremy Smith blindsided Lee and jarred the ball loose. Chris Hummingbird pounced on it looked like the Golden Hurricane was going to get to the locker room trailing just 21-7.

But Evans and Lucas had other ideas. Facing a 2nd and 14 from their own 17-yard line, Evans let one rip deep over the middle. And there was Lucas again – this time making a guy miss and taking it 83 yards to the house.

The Chapman Stadium crowd exploded as Tulsa vaulted its way right back into the game.

Tulsa was 0-8 when trailing at the half last season, so the 21-14 deficit wasn't the best of news. But this one had a different feel to it, and TU proved why with terrific resiliency throughout the second half.

Former Tulane safety Devon Walker was honored at halftime with a moving tribute. Walker was paralyzed from the neck down after suffering a severe hit in Tulane's 2012 visit to Tulsa.  

The Golden Hurricane defense tightened in the third quarter and held Tulane scoreless. Meanwhile, Salazar got another chance and took advantage. He drilled one from 42 yards, his first ever make from 40+, to bring the Hurricane within 21-17.

That score remained until Salazar drilled another one, this time from 26 yards with 8:30 to play. TU was back within a point at 21-20, but in the blink of an eye, the lead ballooned.

On the third play of Tulane's ensuing drive, Lee went deep for Xavier Rush, who caught and ran 60 yards to the end zone for a 28-20 Green Wave lead.

With just a little less than seven minutes to play, the game was essentially on the line for TU – it was score-or-lose time. Tulsa scored.

Evans led an 11-play, 74-yard drive to the Tulane 3-yard line, where TU faced a 4th and goal. Evans then found a crossing Lucas in the right front corner of the end zone for a clutch touchdown. But TU wasn't done; it needed the 2-point conversion to tie the game.

And Evans went right back to same spot, this time for Josh Atkinson, who hauled it in and tied the game with just 2:43 to play.

The Green Wave answered again with Badie. His 73-yard run took Tulane down to the Hurricane 8-yard line, but the drive stalled. Tulane then marched out Andrew DiRocco for a 21-yard field goal, but it was his time to shank one. DiRocco pulled it to the left and we were headed to overtime.

Tulsa won the toss and Tulane received first. After working their way inside the Tulsa 10, Tulane failed to score and settled for a DiRocco field goal.

The Golden Hurricane got their chance and Lucas went right back to work. Lucas took a reverse and dashed 21 yards to the Green Wave 4-yard line. But TU stalled and Salazar's leg sent them into a second overtime tied at 31-31.

TU got the ball first this time and played like a team that was ready to go to bed. On 1st down from the 11, Evans dumped one over the middle to Conner Floyd, who dashed into the end zone and put Tulsa up 38-31. And just two plays later, this one was over.

After missing all of last season due to academic issues and struggling for most of the night, senior safety DeMarco Nelson picked a heck of a time to step up. Nelson picked off Lee's pass in the end zone and after a long and grueling night, Tulsa was officially 1-0.

Evans finished the night 31/53 for 438 yards, four touchdowns and two picks. Evans matched his touchdown total from last season, when he played in eight games as a freshman. Tavarreon Dickerson led the TU ground game with 15 carries for 84 yards. James Flanders ran eight times for 32 yards, while Lucas somehow found time to run for 36 yards on three carries.

While Lucas stole the show, Keyarris Garrett stepped up as well. After missing most of last season with an injury, Garrett returned to catch five balls for 87 yards. Atkinson also made his presence felt, grabbing seven for 80 yards.

Despite the loss, Tulane's future looks bright. In his first ever game, Lee threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns, while fellow-freshman Badie dashed for a whopping 215 yards. Justyn Shackleford led the Tulane receivers with eight grabs for 113 yards.

This is TU's first multiple-overtime contest since Oct. 23, 2004 when the Hurricane suffered a 54-48 triple-overtime defeat at Nevada.

The win moves Tulsa to 1-0 and 1-0 in AAC play. Tulane fell to 0-1 and 0-1. The Golden Hurricane is back at it on Saturday, Sept. 6 against the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners.

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