Tulsa 45, Stephen F. Austin 7

Thursday, August 31st 2006, 10:32 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) Paul Smith threw for 229 yards and 3 touchdowns and Tulsa beat Stephen F. Austin 45-7 Thursday night to win its season opener for the first time in 5 years.

Tarrion Adams and Courtney Tennial each had 1 touchdown receiving and 1 rushing as Tulsa scored on its 5 first-half possessions against a Division I AA school with more than twice as many students.

Adams capped the Golden Hurricane's 75 yard opening drive by running through former Tennessee defensive back Corey Campbell on a 4 yard touchdown run, and he added a 36 yard score on a screen pass from Smith the next time Tulsa (1-0) had the ball.

After a 28 yard field goal by Jarod Tracy, Tennial maintained his balance after being bumped to score his first collegiate touchdown on a 12 yard run. Tennial, a tailback who transferred from Oklahoma after Adrian Peterson emerged as a Heisman contender in 2004, also scored from 25 yards out on a screen pass from Smith.

Already down 31 points, the Lumberjacks (0-1) finally got across midfield for the first time when Jerome Brooks returned a kickoff 47 yards with just over 2 minutes left in the first half. That drive ended when Moton Hopkins blocked Cory Long's 47 yard field goal try to end the half.

Stephen F. Austin scored its only touchdown on a 28 yard run by Vincent Pervis with 6:05 to play.

Tulsa brought back the core of a squad that won Conference USA last season to give the school its first conference title in 20 years. The main loss was Garrett Mills, who set an NCAA record for the most receptions by a tight end last season before being drafted by the New England Patriots.

Tulsa returned 10 starters on defense and the most experienced offensive line in the country with 4 players totaling 95 career starts. That front line gave Smith plenty of time to scan the field, and the only time he got hit was when he took off on designed runs and scrambles.

Smith made up for the loss of Mills by connecting with 11 different receivers. His final pass was a 4 yard TD throw to Nick Henderson on the first drive of the 3rd quarter. He finished 16 for 20 with no interceptions.

Backup David Johnson connected with Jake Collums on a 59 yard touchdown pass and finished with 80 yards on 3 for 7 passing.

Danny Southall was 11 for -23 for 79 yards and one interception for the Lumberjacks.

Tulsa had opened the last 4 years by losing to Oklahoma, Kansas and twice to Minnesota.

The win isn't necessarily a sign of good things to come for Tulsa. After beating Indiana State 51-0 in its 2001 opener, Tulsa lost 17 straight games.