TU Comes From Behind To Top Rams; Open Home Slate With Win

Sunday, September 8th 2013, 12:37 am
By: News On 6

After first-year kicker Carl Salazar missed two short field goals in his Tulsa debut last Thursday, he took plenty of heat.

He also posted a note on his Twitter page, which read like this:

"Can't express how sorry I am to everyone in the Golden Hurricane family for letting you all down. I promise you I will give everything in me to make sure that never happens again. This is a very special university and a special team and we will all bounce back. Can't wait for Saturday."

No need to apologize, Carl. You're the hero now.

Salazar nailed all three of his field-goal attempts including a 34 yarder in the final seconds as Tulsa overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Colorado State 30-27 Saturday night at Chapman Stadium.

Despite the happy ending, the first five minutes of Tulsa's home opener against Colorado State brought back bad memories from last week's debacle at Bowling Green.

After the TU defense forced the Rams to punt on their opening possession, preseason Conference USA Player of the Year Trey Watts fumbled the punt return and Colorado State pounced on it.

It marked the second straight week Watts turned the ball over on a punt return.

Despite that, the TU defense held strong and forced a CSU punt. But after Cody Green and the offense failed to get a first down, it was time to punt, and time for another special teams meltdown.

Cole Way's punt was blocked and recovered at the Tulsa two yard line. Colorado State punched it in two plays later to go up 7-0 and put the Golden Hurricane in an early hole.

But give Tulsa credit; they weren't about to let this game unravel like last week's.

TU answered with a nine-play, 78-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7. Green found Ja'Terian Douglas for the 17-yard touchdown – one of Green's six completions on the drive.

The Hurricane defense followed that score by forcing a turnover on CSU's third play of the drive. Michael Mudoh picked off Garrett Grayson's pass to set up another Golden Hurricane touchdown.

Green found Jordan James for a five-yard score to cap a five-play, 33-yard drive and TU seized a 14-7 lead.

Unfortunately for Tulsa, the rest of the half belonged to Colorado State.

The Rams turned the opening drive of the second quarter into three points with a 25-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 14-10. After a Tulsa three-and-out, Grayson found Jordan Vaden on a 19-yard strike to put the Rams back up, 17-14, just two minutes into the second quarter.

Later in the period, Jared Roberts drilled a 45-yard field goal to give the Rams a 20-14 lead at the break.

Tulsa pulled within three on Salazar's 31-yard field goal early in the third, but the Rams answered back later in the period.

On second down from their own 47, Grayson found Vaden for a 52-yard hookup that put the Rams all the way to the one yard line. Three plays later, CSU punched it in to go up 27-17 and things weren't looking good for the Hurricane.

Just when TU looked like it would find pay dirt, Green's third-down pass went right through the hands of James, and the Hurricane was forced to settle for three. Salazar once again came through, striking a 23 yarder through the uprights and cutting the lead to 27-20.

The Hurricane defense tightened up, forcing back to back Rams' three-and-outs and keeping the game within reach. Finally, with a little less than nine minutes on the clock, TU's offense took advantage. Green capped a 48-yard drive by finding Derek Patterson in the end zone on a 15-yard slant to tie the game at 27-all.

Still tied at 27, with the ball at their own 35 yard line and less than a minute on the clock, it looked like Tulsa was content just running the clock out and heading for overtime. But Watts had other plans and took the ensuing handoff 45 yards all the way to the Rams' 20, setting up Salazar to be the hero.

With just three seconds left, Salazar patiently withstood three Colorado State timeouts as the Rams attempted to ice the inexperienced kicker. But the stalling didn't work, as Salazar nailed the 34 yarder from the right hash and the Hurricane walked away winners in their home debut.

The win improves Tulsa to 1-1 on the young season and is the 298th home win in school history. It is also TU's eighth straight win at Chapman Stadium.

Green finished with 212 yards, three touchdowns and one pick. Watts led the ground attack with 22 carries for 152 yards, while Douglas added 43 yards on the ground.

The Tulsa defense was strong, holding the Rams to just 286 total yards and nine first downs.

Next up for the Hurricane is a trip to Norman next Saturday at 11 a.m. The Oklahoma Sooners (2-0) will await the defending Conference USA champions.