After being shut down by Ohio State last weekend, it was Tulsa’s turn to shut someone down as they scored 58 unanswered points before beating North Carolina A&T 58–21 on Saturday. A&T (Aggies) came in as the 19th best team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), but couldn’t make anything work against Tulsa’s smothering defense. The Golden Hurricane shut them out until late in the third quarter when most of the starters had already been taken out of the game.
The decision to defer the coin toss to the second half paid off for the Golden Hurricane as the defense came out as strong as they started the game last week, giving up nothing on the first drive of the game. After opening up the game with a sack the defense held the Aggies back forcing them to a three-and-out.
After struggling to move the ball last week (they were held to only 3 points) the Golden Hurricane drove all the way down to the North Carolina A&T three-yard line. They couldn’t punch it in unfortunately and had to settle for a Redford Jones field go to take a 3–0 lead.
It wasn’t too long after that they scored their first touchdown of the day. After forcing the Aggies to punt again, the special teams made a spectacular play. Sophomore safety McKinley Whitfield blocked the punt and Tulsa recovered the ball inside the one-yard line. One play and three seconds later and Tulsa was up 10–0 on a William Flanders one-yard run.
After trading punts for the next couple of minutes, the Aggies finally looked to be threatening the Golden Hurricane as they drove to the 25-yard line.
A tackle in the backfield pushed them back to the 28, and when Aggie quarterback Oluwafemi Bamiro tried to force a throw, Kolton Shindelar returned it all the way downfield for a touchdown and the 17-point lead.
This was Schindelar’s second career interception returned for a touchdown, the first came in the win over Tulane last season that gave the Golden Hurricane bowl eligibility.
On the very next Aggie drive Bamiro threw another interception, this time picked off by Whitfield at the Golden Hurricane’s 49-yard line. Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans found an open Keevan Lucas on the next play who took the ball in for the 51-yard touchdown and a 24-point lead.
The two teams moved the ball around for the next couple minutes of game-time but didn’t do anything with it until 13 minutes remained in the half. At that point, Whitfield blocked another Aggie punt and the Evans hit Lucas in the ensuing possession to take a 31-point lead with 12 minutes still left in the first half. And the scoring did not stop.
On their next possession Evans was picked off, but the Aggies were called for being offsides.
After the penalty Flanders ran the ball in for the 21-yard score and the 38–0 lead. And on their next offensive possession, Evans found Lucas for the third time, this time a 52-yard touchdown, and a 45–0 lead. They capped off the first half with a field goal to go into the break with a 48 point lead.
The first half was extremely lopsided. The Golden Hurricane had 257 passing yards and 343 total yards to the Aggies 76 and 123 respectively.
Tulsa gave their starters one more possession to start off the second half and they scored another field goal to go up 51–0. Since backup quarterback Chad President was sidelined due to injury, Tulsa called upon Ryan Rubley, a redshirt junior who was seeing playing time for the first time in his career at Tulsa.
Rubley had a nice game going 6-10, with a touchdown to tight end Rob Riederer, the first touchdown for both of them.
Up 58–0 after that touchdown, the Golden Hurricane were just concerned about running out the clock and making sure no one got injured.
In the final 16 minutes of the game the Aggies scored three touchdowns making the final score 58–21, though it was not nearly as close as the scoreboard would show.
Evans bounced back from the rough outing last week when Ohio State picked him off repeatedly, finishing with 282 yards and three touchdowns. Lucas finished with 119 yards — all of which were off of four receptions in the first half — his eighth game of over 100 yards.
This was a game of firsts for a lot of Golden Hurricane players. Rubley, redshirt freshman Avery Gragg, junior deep snapper Ty Lott and redshirt freshman running back Javon Thomas all saw their first action in the college level on Saturday.
Riederer had his first touchdown and redshirt freshman Travis Gipson had his first career sack for a 10-yard loss.
In his post-game press conference Head Coach Philip Montgomery talked about winning from every side of the ball.
“I thought it was really another good overall team win. I thought we made plays obviously on special teams there early in the game, which really kicked the momentum to our side. Defensively we played lights out,” Montgomery said.
“Offensively, the possessions that we got, I thought we took advantage of those, executed what we wanted to do offensively. I thought we moved the ball up and down the field at times. You know, there in the latter part of the game, we got some young guys in. It’s a good chance for them to get some experience, get some work in live competition. Obviously they are going to get better and better as we go along but it was a good chance to get those guys in and get them some experience.”
Tulsa used this game to help them get back into focus for the rest of the season after the disappointing show in Columbus. Evans talked about what the team was feeling up after that loss.
“After a week like last week, nothing seems right. The days don’t seem right, food doesn’t taste the same, music doesn’t sound good, and you just don’t want to talk about it anymore. You just want to go out and play on Saturday, and you want to get that taste out of your mouth, and that’s exactly what we did today. And now that we got that taste out of our mouth, we’re ready to go for next week and to keep this thing rolling.”
The Golden Hurricane travel to Fresno state next week to finish up their non-conference schedule and will return to take on Southern Methodist University at home on Oct 7.