The new fun, fast and physical brand of Tulsa football under first-year head coach Philip Montgomery debuted in front of an estimated crowd of 3,185 fans Saturday afternoon at H.A. Chapman Stadium, as the Golden Hurricane concluded spring drills with its annual Spring Game.
The Hurricane ran 113 plays in a brisk 67 minutes, including a 10-minute break halfway through the scrimmage. The pace averaged out to just more than 1.5 plays per real-time minute.
Fans would be wise not to look away from the field very long, lest they miss a play or three.
“I saw good things offensively and defensively,” Montgomery said. “We got some stops, we hit a couple deep balls, had some sustained drives, and we were able to finish. The number one thing is that we got out healthy So, I thought overall it's a good stopping point right now. We still have a lot of work to do, but I like where we are at the end of spring drills.”
Dane Evans completed 18-of-23 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns – strikes of 34 yards to Josh Atkinson, 42 yards to Keevan Lucas, and 53 yards to Keyarris Garrett. Joseph Calcagni tossed for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 15-of-28 completions. Evans and Calcagni alternated possessions as quarterback for most of the scrimmage. Lucas led the receiving corps with six catches for 94 yards, Garrett caught five passes for 79 yards, and Atkinson tallied four receptions for 73 yards.
Zack Langer ran four times for 79 yards and a 64-yard touchdown, and caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Calcagni. D'Angelo Brewer ran eight times for 38 yards, including a four-yard touchdown run. Payton Prince added a 12-yard receiving touchdown from Calcagni.
In all, the offense totaled 28 first downs and scored seven touchdowns on 18 possessions, totaling 443 yards and five touchdowns passing and 212 yards and two touchdowns rushing.
Zik Asiegbu led the defense with eight tackles, Shawn Norman recorded six tackles, and Jeremy Brady and Kerwin Thomas each tallied five tackles. The defense totaled five tackles for loss, and Jordan Mitchell picked off a pass for the scrimmage's only turnover.
“The first drive is always important. You get off to a good start and create momentum,” Montgomery said. “Momentum is the best player on the field, so if we can capture it early and hold on to it good things can happen. Big plays continue to be in trend if you can hit them.”
The offense scored its first touchdown in less than four minutes of real time. Evans connected with Josh Atkinson for a 34-yard score on the seventh play of the opening possession.
On Evans' second possession at quarterback, D'Angelo Brewer powered through the middle of the line for a four-yard score. The touchdown was the ninth play of the drive. The third possession with Evans at the helm took just five plays. The quarterback found Keevan Lucas behind the defense on a beautiful 42-yard scoring strike.
On its second possession after the break, the Evans-led offense found the end zone once again. Zack Langer rushed up the middle and broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run.
The Calcagni-led offensive unit reached the end zone on a 12-yard pass from Calcagni to Payton Prince. Evans completed his day with 53-yard strike down the east sideline to Keyarris Garrett. On the next possession, Calcagni hit Langer in flat, and the running back rumbled 18 yards to the corner of the end zone for his second touchdown of the day.
Redford Jones nailed both of his field goal attempts, including a 47-yarder to the north end zone near the end of the scrimmage. He also made a 46-yard field goal to the south end zone in the first half.