Tulsa Tailspin

Tulsa showed everyone watching why they have the number-one Offense in the country Saturday night in Tulsa. They rolled up 577 yards behind a strong second half surge, turning a close game at the half into a blowout...

Football can be a game of funny bounces, and as a result a team's momentum can change in a heartbeat. That's exactly what happened early in the 3rd quarter when Rice misfired on a punt, sending a line drive that would officially travel 2 yards across the field. Rather than have the ball bounce off of him, Tulsa Receiver Slick Shelley instinctively snared the bullet of a punt and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. The improbable result was a two touchdown lead for Tulsa and a huge shift in momentum for the home team. Any momentum the Owls hoped to capture coming out of the locker room went quietly off into the night.

The Owls would never challenge again as Tulsa went on to a huge blowout victory 63-28.

Early on things looked different however. Rice was able to move the ball successfully in the first half and the anticipated Offensive shootout was playing out to script. The Owls even had opportunities to tie the game before the half - and still they were only down 21-14 at intermission. But ultimately Tulsa made the plays they needed to, and ran the ball with amazing efficiency. Tulsa has a date with Arkansas a few weeks away which may present the only real obstacle to the Golden Hurricane's quest for a perfect season.

The Owls had few bright spots, but one was when Jarett Dillard became the NCAA leader in touchdown receptions with 51 when he caught a 25 yard pass from Chase Clement with 3:06 left in the second quarter. But as would be the case all night Tulsa marched right back to score before the half to make the game 21-14.

For every good play Rice would make, it seemed Tulsa would make 3 more. And so the game went. While Rice didn't play perfectly in the first half they played with much fewer mistakes. The Owls self destructed in all 3 phases of the game in the second half however, and the rout was on.

Problem Areas

The Owls simply could not stop the Tulsa ground game, particularly in the second half. The Golden Hurricane had almost 3 backs rush for 100 yards; Tarrion Adams 23-112, Charles Opeseyitan 10-94, and A.J. Whitmore 5-83. Whitmore was particularly lethal - he scored twice on direct snap option keepers and averaged over 16 yards per carry. All tolled, Tulsa gouged the Owl Defense for 386 yards rushing.

In the second half, Chase struggled to find the rhythm it had at times in before the half. He had a few bad throws but the issue was as much about protection as it was about anything. Tulsa was constantly in his face and the offense had a very hard time getting going as a result.

Special Teams play reared its ugly head again. Clark Fangmeier missed a 37 yard field goal in the second quarter. A couple of kickoffs were misplaced - resulting in outstanding field position for Tulsa. And of the course the punt miscue early in the 3rd quarter was pivotal in the game. The only bright spot was that coverage units were and have been) pretty solid.

The Owls were among the leaders in the country in takeaway margin heading into the game. But last night they were the givers - fumbling 5 times, losing 3 of them. Chase also threw an interception. Tulsa threw one interception, but had no other turnovers.

Bad Case of the "Dropsies"

Toren Dixon, Tommy Henderson, and even Jarett Dillard dropped passes last night that would have possibly kept the Rice chains moving. Dixon and Dillard had more than drop a piece.

Hardly Healthy

Last night's game was a hard hitting affair. Players from both sides were helped off the field in numbers. Though Rice got a big boost when Brian Raines took the field last night, they also lost Andrew Sendejo early on due to a reported ankle injury. Cheta Ozougwu injured his right arm/shoulder and was in and out of the lineup. Chase Clement was also limping noticeably late in the game after taking a big hit in the 3rd quarter. The Owls will welcome an off week this weekend to heal up for their next game, Southern Miss at home October 18.

Game Notes

Jarett Dillard has 142 yards on 7 catches and extended both he and Chase's NCAA touchdown record, as well as his own NCAA individual touchdown record.

Freshman Roddy Maginot had the first catch of his Owl career last night when he snagged a pass from John Thomas Shepherd in the 4th quarter. He turned the catch into a 17 yard gain with a nifty run afterwards.

Backup Free Safety Travis Bradshaw tied Terrance Garmon for the team lead in tackles last night after coming in for the injured Andrew Sendejo. Bradshaw had 7 solo tackles, and 2 assists for a total of 9. Garmon also had 7 solo tackles.

As has been the case several times in recent games Chase Clement was the victim of a late hit when he was taken down at least 5 yards out-of-bounds in the first half. Tulsa Linebacker Tanner Antle slammed Clement down right in the middle of the Tulsa bench but wasn't flagged for the flagrant foul. Not surprising given the circumstances.

The Owls were credited with 4 QB hurries on Tulsa QB David Johnson, but no sacks. Meanwhile, the Golden Hurricane sacked Chase Clement 3.5 times.

Rice plays Southern Miss at home on October 18.


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