The Tulsa Golden Hurricane gained nearly 500 yards of total offense and scored 49 points on Saturday, holding off the UAB Blazers 49-42 in its Conference USA road opener.
As UAB was driving to try and tie the game with just minutes left, Mitchell Osborne sacked Blazers' quarterback Austin Brown, forced and recovered a fumble, securing a victory for the Golden Hurricane in a wild shootout.
That's about the extent of the positives from this one.
The sloppy play that has plagued this TU team all season followed them to Birmingham. Turnovers, bad special teams play and an awful defensive performance lead to a fourth-quarter nail-biter against a bad football team.
The day got off to a rough start when Brown launched a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jamarcus Nelson on the first play of the game to give UAB a 7-0 lead.
TU answered right back with an Alex Singleton three-yard touchdown run to tie it at 7-7, but the Hurricane defense made it clear early that stopping the Blazers wasn't on the to-do list Saturday.
UAB drove right back down with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped off with Brown's second touchdown pass of the day, to take a 14-7 lead.
The Hurricane would promptly answer with back-to-back touchdowns in the form of another short Singleton run and a Cody Green 21-yard pass to Willie Carter. TU appeared to be taking control of the weaker team when another frustrating miscue occurred. Cole Way's punt was blocked by Derek Slaughter and recovered at the TU four yard line. Three plays later, UAB's Darrin Reaves punched it in, tying the game at 21-all.
Tulsa's offense didn't appear fazed by the subpar performances by TU's defense and special teams, answering again with another touchdown drive. The Hurricane moved the ball with ease and took a 28-21 lead when Green found Keyarris Garrett for an 11-yard touchdown.
TU followed that by forcing a UAB three-and-out, and set their sights on the end zone again. Green gave his arm a break, keeping it himself for a 45-yard touchdown run to give the Golden Hurricane a 35-21 lead.
Tulsa had a chance to increase the lead to 17 just before the half, but freshman kicker Daniel Schwarz missed a 35-yard field goal, adding to the special teams woes.
The first half was statically dominated by TU. Tulsa had 20 first downs compared to just five for UAB. The Hurricane gained 347 yards, while the Blazers only managed 67 after their initial 75-yard touchdown pass. Tulsa also held a 153-1 advantage in rushing yards.
Tulsa had weathered the early UAB storm, and this one had the feeling of a potential second half blowout.
After forcing a TU three-and-out, UAB answered with another Reaves touchdown run, cutting the Hurricane lead to just seven.
Tulsa came right back when Trey Watts scampered for a 10-yard score to put the Hurricane up 42-28. The Golden Hurricane got the ball back and appeared to be putting together an early-fourth quarter drive that could put the game away.
Then another miscue. Green fumbled, and UAB's Marvin Burdette recovered.
The Blazers cashed in quickly when Reaves found the end zone for the third time, cutting the lead to 42-35. Tulsa followed by going three-and-out, and then things got mighty interesting.
On 3rd and 10 from midfield, Brown found Nelson again for a 50-yard strike to tie the game. Tulsa promptly went three-and-out yet again, and the small UAB crowd could feel the upset.
But Tulsa wasn't ready to go 0-2 on the road, and DeAundre Brown made sure of it. Brown came up with a huge interception for the Hurricane, and Tulsa's offense knew what to do with it.
TU took the ensuing drive right down the field, and Singleton punched the game-winning touchdown in from six yards out. Somehow, some way, the Hurricane found a way to win again.
The Hurricane allowed six touchdowns to a team that hadn't found the end zone in three weeks. They allowed multiple huge plays to an offense that had only one play of 40 yards or more all season. The bright side for Tulsa is despite two turnovers, a blocked punt and a missed field goal, they improved to 2-0 in Conference USA play and earned their first road win of the season, and at the end of the day, winning the game is what matters most.
TU improves to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in C-USA play. UAB falls to 0-4 and 0-1 in the conference. Tulsa travels to Marshall next Saturday at 2:30 p.m.