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September 9, 2006

Tulsa stumbles at BYU

The University of Tulsa took an early 10-7 lead on the road against Brigham Young University on Saturday afternoon, but the Golden Hurricane eventually suffered a slow, painful loss, going behind 42-17 before a 55-minute weather delay in the fourth quarter. Each team tacked on an additional touchdown after the lightning subsided, and TU suffered their first loss of the season, 49-24.

"It was a hard game to kind of get into a rhythm," said TU Head Coach Steve Kragthorpe. "I thought our guys battled. We've got a lot of things that we can improve upon, so this is an opportunity for us to sit back after this one and say here are the things we've got to get better at."

After BYU struck on their first drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass, Tulsa snatched the momentum with the next ten points. The Hurricane got things rolling with a long 14-play drive that culminated in a six-yard scoring pass from Paul Smith to Kyle Grooms.

After the Cougars next drive stalled, TU running back Courtney Tennial worked some special teams magic with a blocked punt. Despite getting the ball deep in BYU territory, the Tulsa offense stalled, and Jarod Tracy hammered through a 25-yard field goal.

Just at the Hurricane gained the upper hand, it all fell apart in the last half of the second quarter. The BYU offensive line began to dominate in the trenches, providing large holes for running backs and plenty of pocket time for John Beck. They also neutralized the talented Tulsa linebackers.

This led to two quick scores for the Cougars and a 21-10 halftime lead. BYU converted three first downs on their way to a six-yard rushing score, which was followed on their next drive by a quick touchdown in the final two minutes, as Beck found Matt Allen from three yards out.

It quickly got worse for Tulsa after halftime, as BYU used a big play to stretch their lead. The Cougars went 65 yards in just three plays, scoring on a 62-yard pass and catch from Beck to running back Curtis Brown.

Down 28-10, the Hurricane refused to fold their tent, answering with an 80-yard drive that ended on a one-yard TD plunge by Tarrion Adams. Tulsa then forced BYU to punt and had a chance to close within single digits, but a Smith pass bounced off the hands of fullback Ted Curtis and was intercepted.

It was all downhill from there for the Golden Hurricane.

BYU capitalized on the turnover, punishing TU on the ground, and Fui Vakapuna hit the end zone on an 11-yard scamper just before the end of the third quarter. The Cougars extended their lead to 42-17 when Beck hit Zac Collie on a 16-yard scoring pass.

With six minutes left to play, the game came to a halt when lightning and heavy rain rolled into the area, sending the teams to the locker rooms for almost an hour. After the delay, Tulsa returned to the field, doing their best to stay focused and motivated.

"I've been involved in (a weather delay) in high school, but (college) is a different game and obviously a different level, so it's much harder to do," sophomore Tarrion Adams said of having to wait out the weather. "Especially how the game was going at the time, it was just hard to do."

When play resumed, BYU finished off their final scoring drive. Reserve running back Harvey Unga hit paydirt from six yards out. That was followed by a late Tulsa touchdown, as Courtney Tennial scored from the five-yard line on his third carry of the game to notch the final margin.

John Beck finished with 240 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-21 passing, but the foundation of the BYU attack was on the ground, where they churned out 227 yards and four scores.

"Their backs really played well," Kragthorpe explained. "Vakapuna and Brown really carried the ball well today, and they're big, strong, physical guys. They're not guys you can tackle around the shoulders."

Junior quarterback Paul Smith wasn't as efficient as usual for Tulsa, connecting on 19-of-32 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Tarrion Adams was the Hurricane's leading rusher and receiver, gaining 23 yards and a score on eight carries and catching seven passes for 89 yards.


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