Written By: Erik Slaby
(Miami, FL) On sunny, humid afternoon here in Miami, at Marlins Park, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (10-3) defeated the Central Michigan University Chippewas (6-7), 55-10 to win the 3rd Annual Miami Beach Bowl. It was a dominating performance by Tulsa, as they led the entire game.
By the end of the first quarter, it looked like the game would be a low-scoring affair as Tulsa only led 10-3. It was a bit of a slow start for Tulsa early on, but they were able to move the ball up and down the field with ease as shown on their first scoring drive. On that drive, Tulsa drove 93 yards down the field, in 17 plays and took five minutes and twenty-nine seconds off the game-clock. The drive ended with a five yard touchdown pass from Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans to wide receiver Josh Atkinson. From that point on, Tulsa took the lead and never looked back.
Offensively, Tulsa was led by Evans who completed 28 of 38 passes, for 305 yards and five touchdowns. He was awarded the Most Valuable Player award after the game. With his fifth touchdown pass of the game, he set the school record for most touchdown passes in a career with 84. In addition to his individual record setting performance, the rest of the offense went into the record books as well.
Wide receiver Josh Atkinson led Tulsa in receiving with 12 catches for 131 yards and one touchdown and in this game, he eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving this season. Fellow wide receiver Keevan Lucas also had three touchdown catches. With Atkinson accomplishing this feat, Tulsa has become the first team ever in NCAA FBS history to have a 3,000 yard passer in Evans, two receivers with over 1,000 yards receiving in Atkinson and Lucas, as well as two running backs with over 1,000 yards rushing in James Flanders and D’Angelo Brewer all in the same season. Evans spoke after the game about this accomplishment.
“It’s the first time in NCAA history that it’s happened, and that’s pretty cool,” Evans said. “To imagine that we had won five games combined before Coach Monty (head coach Phillip Montgomery) got here the last couple seasons, and now we have guys going into NCAA history, that just shows you what that man means to us.”
Central Michigan had a very rough afternoon as it seemed like they were plagued by dropped passes, miscommunication, penalties or poor throws offensively for the entire game. At points, it would look like they were beginning to establish a rhythm but then they would end up hurting themselves and stopping their own drives. Defensively, they struggled as the Tulsa offense was able to cut through the defense at will and nothing Central Michigan did seemed to hamper them in any way.
Quarterback Cooper Rush led the offensive and finished with 24 completions on 49 attempts, 241 yards passing and unfortunately, three interceptions, with one of them being returned for a touchdown. Running back Jahray Hayes had the lone touchdown of the game for Central Michigan. Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego spoke after the game about the overall performance.
“I felt like we matched up a little better than what we demonstrated today,” Bonamego stated. “We weren’t able to finish drives, we hurt ourselves in penalties, and defensively we could never get off the field. When you perform that way against a good football team, you get beat.” He also added that Central Michigan will, “take this (loss), learn from it, and build for the future.”
With this win, Tulsa now has at 10 wins this season, making it the first time since 2012 that they finish a season with at least 10 wins. This win and performance by this Tulsa team this season looks to have a positive effect on this program moving forward. Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery spoke after the game about the win and the future.
“We’ve had great leadership on this team and at our university in general,” Montgomery said. “We are really excited about the direction that Tulsa football is headed and couldn’t be happier with the way this season ended for us.”
Written by Erik Slaby
This Monday, 2:30 p.m. EST, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (9-3), led by second-year head coach Phillip Montgomery, face off against the Central Michigan University Chippewas (6-6), led by second year head coach John Bonamego at Marlins Park in Miami, in the 3rd annual Miami Beach Bowl.
Tulsa has had a very good season this year, their second under head coach Phillip Montgomery. Last season, Tulsa finished with a 6-7 overall record and a loss in the Independence Bowl but this season they finished the regular season with a 9-3 record. Two of their three losses this year were against nationally ranked teams in at the time, 4th ranked Ohio State and 13th ranked Houston. Also, even in losses, Tulsa was a tough opponent. In their losses against Houston and Navy, Tulsa lost by a combined nine points.
The strength of this Tulsa team is their offense. They finished the year ranked 6th in the country in total offense and 8th overall in rushing offense. They were led in rushing by running back James Flanders who finished the year with 1,529 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns on 241 carries. Fellow running back D’Angelo Brewer also finished the season with over 1,000 yards on the ground with 1,330 yards rushing, on 247 carries and seven touchdowns.
While the rushing attack paved the way for Tulsa and their offensive success, the passing attack also held its own. Quarterback Dane Evans finished the season completing 231 passes out of 397 attempts for 3,044 yards, 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also had four rushing touchdowns. Wide receiver Keevan Lucas led the receiving group with 74 catches for 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns. While the offense is the strength of Tulsa, their defense has played well in spurts and does have some key players that the Central Michigan offense will need to keep an eye on.
Linebacker Trent Martin leads Tulsa in tackles with 94, as well as interceptions with two on the year. Defensive lineman Jesse Brubaker and linebacker Petera Wilson are tied for the team lead in sacks with 4.5 apiece. As a whole, Tulsa has 27 sacks this season. The Central Michigan offense could be a tough matchup for this Tulsa team as they have a pretty good passing attack.
The Central Michigan passing attack is ranked 26th overall in the nation. The offense is led by quarterback Cooper Rush who has completed 254 of 416 passes for 3,299 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The receiving group is led by wide receiver Corey Willis who caught 68 passes for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Running back Devon Spalding has led the rushing attack and finished with 737 yards rushing and six touchdowns. The Central Michigan defense may even be a bit better than their offense.
Central Michigan’s defense is ranked 43rd nationally in total defense and is 33rd in red zone defense. One player Tulsa will need to keep an eye on is defensive lineman Joe Ostman who leads the team in sacks with nine. He also has 64 tackles on the year. Linebacker Malik Fountain leads the team in tackles with 84. Defensive back Amari Coleman will also be a player to watch out for as he leads the team in interceptions with four.
With each team having strong offenses, this game could be an offensive shootout. Tulsa has been in several shootouts this year and have shown the ability to score points in bunches and quickly. While Central Michigan has not been in many shootouts, they can still put up points. The key in this game will be the defense. Whichever team’s defense shows the ability to get stops in critical situations, that team will win the game.