In the season opener against San Jose State, the Golden Hurricane run-game led by junior running back D’Angelo Brewer, routed the Spartans 45–10. The offense looked sharp throughout the first half, picking up right where they left on in the Independence Bowl, scoring within 46 seconds after touching the ball.
These two teams looked to be an even match throughout the week leading up to the game. This was the seventh time that the Golden Hurricane and the Spartans have played, with the lifetime series being split 3–3 before the game. They also both finished 6–7 and went to bowl games.
The Golden Hurricane started the game on defense and forced a San Jose punt to get the ball back on their own 8-yard line. The offense and returning wide receiver—who missed nine games last season due to injury—didn’t miss a beat with the first offensive play of the game a 46 strike to Lucas deep. Two plays later Brewer made his case as the leader of the Tulsa run-game with a 38-yard run into the endzone. Four plays, 46 seconds, touchdown.
Lucas’ return is big news for the Golden Hurricane. He was a 1,000 yard receiver in 2014 and on pace to do that again last season picking up 409 yards and five touchdowns in less than four full games. He led the team in receiving yards in Saturday’s win with 112 yards, his seventh career game of over 100.
For the next couple of drives the Spartans and Golden Hurricane traded punts with neither team seeming to make any ground. Defensively the Golden Hurricane were standing strong, forcing incompletions and finishing drives off with sacks. With five minutes left in the quarter the Spartans got the ball back but once again didn’t seem to be doing anything on their drive that started with a penalty for 12 players in the huddle. But, with one throw—a 64-yard pass from Kenny Potter to Rashead Johnson—San Jose State tied up the game at 7–7 apiece.
Tulsa responded by rattling off 38 unanswered points starting just two minutes later. On the ensuing Tulsa drive, Brewer ran around the Spartan’s defense, but the drive stalled at the 18, forcing the Golden Hurricane to settle for a field goal. After their defense forced a three-and-out on two pass deflects, Tulsa once again ran straight over San Jose State, capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Brewer, his second of the game.
On the first play of the next drive, Jesse Brubaker picked off Potter’s pass after it was tipped and ran it in for a 24-yard touchdown return. Dating to last year this was the fifth pick-six in Tulsa’s last seven games. After the first quarter Tulsa led the Spartans 24–7.
The next Spartan drive ended in another turnover, this time a fumble recovered by Frankie Davis Jr. Tulsa took advantage and put up another seven points on an 11-yard pass from Dane Evans to Dustin Hobbs, Evans’ only touchdown of the game.
After stopping San Jose late in the second quarter, but having their drive stopped immediately after, TU’s Dalton Parks rocketed a punt 61-yards. The Spartans couldn’t keep control of the ball and fumbled it into the endzone where it was recovered by Mckinley Whitfield for another Tulsa touchdown putting the Golden Hurricane 31 points ahead of the Spartans at the half.
The second half started off almost the same as the first did, with the Golden Hurricane scoring on their opening possession, once again on a Brewer touchdown, his third and final touchdown of the game. After an impressive four-play goal-line stand in the middle of the third quarter, TU started running down the clock to preserve the win. Sophomore quarterback Chad President subbed in for Dane Evans in the fourth quarter to get playing time.
San Jose State scored a field goal at the start of the fourth quarter but couldn’t muster any more offense against the Tulsa defense as they were held to just 287 yards. In comparison, Tulsa rushed for 305 yards and had 512 total yards of offense in the win. Tulsa held the Spartans to just 53 rushing yards, the lowest in any game since 2012.
Brewer rushed for a career-high 164 yards and already has half as many touchdowns as he did all of last season.
“Well, I thought it was a great team win. Obviously we’ve still got a lot of things to improve on, but those are a whole lot easier to correct when you get it after a win, being able to go in a fix those things on tape. But I thought the way our guys came out and competed, especially early, I thought we captured momentum early. The big pass to Keevan [Lucas] kind of set the tone there in the first drive, and then defensively coming out and playing as well as they did, I mean, I thought they did an outstanding job stopping the run all night.” Head Coach Philip Montgomery said in his postgame press conference.
Later when asked, Montgomery emphasized just how important the rushing defense was for the Golden Hurricane. “I’m really pleased with what we did stopping the run. They had four of their five offensive linemen back plus their tight end back. The only thing they were really missing from that running game last year was their running back. So I thought our defensive line handled that front really well and did a great job of stopping the run, and I thought we — Coach Young, Coach Norwood did a good job of keeping them confused and giving them different looks and keeping us on the edge right there. Really pleased with what we did defensively today, but we’ve still got a lot of room to grow.”
The Golden Hurricane (1–0) will be in action again next week on the road against the Ohio State Buckeyes (1–0). Ohio State — currently ranked sixth in the country — won the Fiesta Bowl last year and were the National Champions the year prior. In their first game against Bowling Green they won 77–10. That game will be broadcasted nationally on ABC at 2:30 Tulsa time.