Courtesy of: Ian Maule, Tulsa World file

Despite being heavy underdogs, Tulsa put up a strong effort against 11th-ranked Oklahoma State on Saturday and was able to hold Oklahoma State’s prominent offense to just 16 points.

Tulsa got the ball first and the drive started promising, but it stalled out around the 50-yard line and ended with a punt. Oklahoma State’s first drive was a slow and methodical 16 play drive that ended with Tulsa able to hold them to a field goal, but still allowing a 3-0 lead.

Tulsa’s next drive ended with a quick three and out, but they got their first bit of momentum at the start of Oklahoma State’s drive. An attempted handoff to Chuba Hubbard resulted in a fumble and an easy recovery for Christian Williams to give Tulsa the ball at Oklahoma State’s 37-yard line. As Tulsa started their drive, Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders walked into the locker room with an injury. Despite any momentum Tulsa had from the fumble recovery, they were unable to get the ball past the line of scrimmage, and a risky 4th down conversion attempt with 10 yards to the first down marker came up short.

With Ethan Bullock in ast quarterback to replace the injured Spencer Sanders, the two offenses alternated bad drives for the remaining 4:13 left in the first quarter up until 2:39 left in the second quarter. At this point, Tulsa had their first attacking drive on offense after a failed fourth-down conversion by Oklahoma State gave Tulsa the ball at Tulsa’s 42-yard line. The drive opened with Zach Smith making a 41 yard pass to Keylon Stokes to set up Tulsa at Oklahoma State’s 15-yard line. Two plays later, Smith completed a pass to Josh Johnson on the left edge of the endzone to give Tulsa the 7-3 lead with 1:32 left in the 2nd quarter. Oklahoma State ran out the clock to end the first half with Tulsa winning the half 7-3.

The first nine minutes of the third quarter followed a similar pattern to the second quarter with neither team able to hit their stride offensively. Then with six minutes left in the quarter, Oklahoma State made it 40 yards in just six plays. Tulsa needed a stop and it came when cornerback Allie Green IV intercepted Bullock’s pass and brought it to Tulsa’s 29-yard line. Despite the sudden momentum swing, Tulsa was stopped just short of the 50-yard line. After the punt, Oklahoma State brought in true freshman Shane Illingworth after Bullock threw for only 41 yards and an interception in just about 2 quarters of play. With Illingworth in at quarterback, Oklahoma State now had the big play capability that was lacking with Bullock. Two big passes to former Blitnekoff finalist Tylan Wallace were part of a series of plays that ended with Chuba Hubbard running it into the endzone to pull Oklahoma State ahead 10-7 with 14:56 left in the 4th quarter.

Tulsa started with a productive drive to try and respond to Oklahoma State, and a 22-yard pass to Josh Johnson brought Tulsa into OSU’s side of the field. Deneric Prince broke off a 20 yard run and an added 4 yards off of a facemask penalty set Tulsa at the 4-yard line. Corey Taylor had a 2-yard run up the middle to bring it to the 2-yard line, but a false start penalty negated a touchdown pass, and Tulsa failed to convert on 3rd and goal from the 7-yard line. A missed 26-yard field goal kept Oklahoma State in the lead. The facemask penalty might have saved the game for Oklahoma State as Prince had a wide open path to the end zone before getting pulled down by his facemask. Oklahoma State made a field goal with 5:11 left in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 13-7.

Possibly looking at their last drive of the game, Tulsa started with a good 8-yard run by Prince, but penalties and an inability to get past the line of scrimmage plagued the drive. While the drive started at Tulsa’s 25-yard line, it finished with Oklahoma State getting the ball at Tulsa’s 2-yard line after a turnover on downs. They burned the clock with a slow-tempo series of runs that ended in a field goal that gave them a 16-7 lead, and put the nail in the coffin. Tulsa got the ball back with 18 seconds left, but Zach Smith threw an interception on the first play of the drive, and Oklahoma State ended the game with a kneel.

Coming up this week, Tulsa has an away game against Arkansas State to cap their abbreviated non-conference schedule. Arkansas State made news last week for upsetting Kansas State, but they then lost to Memphis on Saturday. It is a chance for Tulsa to get an early win before a difficult start to conference play with back-to-back away games against Top-15 ranked teams.

Post Author: Ethan Worley