Tulsa 38, Tulane 3

Friday, November 24th 2006, 5:33 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Tulsa's victory over Tulane did more than just snap a three-game losing streak. It completed a remarkable reversal for what four years ago was one of the nation's most downtrodden programs.

TU's 20 seniors, including 12 starters, have won 29 games, including Friday's 38-3 victory over the Green Wave, and are headed for their third bowl game in the past four years.

"I can't tell you how proud I am of these seniors and what they've accomplished," said coach Steve Kragthorpe, who took over the program in 2003. "We're 4-0 now on Senior Day. I don't think anyone in their right mind would have envisioned four years ago that these guys would win 17 games their last two years. Now we're going after 18."

Which of the four bowl games TU (8-4, 5-3 CUSA) is eligible for will depend on other conference results this weekend.

In Friday's game, Tulsa limited Tulane to just 152 yards total offense. The Green Wave entered the game averaging 261.8 passing yards per game, but quarterback Lester Ricard completed just 10 of 21 for 78 yards.

"You have to give Tulsa credit," Ricard said. "They played a great game and really kept the pressure on me. ... It was just really frustrating."

Led by quarterback Paul Smith, Tulsa had 191 yards on the ground and 267 yards passing. Smith completed 14 of 20 for 215 yards and a touchdown and did not have an incompletion in the second half.

The win stopped a three-game slide for Tulsa, which had high hopes of repeating as C-USA champions until losses to Houston, Rice and SMU. Senior defensive back Nick Graham said the Hurricane could not complain about being 8-4.

"We let a few get away, but I'm sure there are 50 teams out there wishing they were 8-4 and heading to a bowl game," Graham said.

Tulsa led 17-0 at halftime, then held Tulane to a field goal after a time-consuming drive to open the second half. Tulsa put the game away with touchdowns on its next two possessions, a 5-yard run by Courtney Tennial followed by a 25-yard pass from Smith to Cody Madison.

Tulsa limited Tulane to 68 yards and five first downs in building a 17-0 halftime lead.

The Hurricane converted on a fake punt to spark a 77-yard scoring drive on its first possession, capped by a 1-yard plunge by Brandon Diles. The lead swelled on a career-long 50-yard field goal by Jarod Tracy and a 1-yard run by Tennial.

Tulsa only had to drive 29 yards for the second touchdown following a short punt into the wind. Ryan Bugg had six catches for 99 yards and Donnie Johnson four catches for 81 yards for Tulsa.