Only eight of the 12 teams in The American were in action this weekend. SMU and Cincinnati had the week off, and Navy’s game with East Carolina was postponed to November 19 due to flooding around Greenville caused by Hurricane Matthew.
You already know all about USF’s win over UConn, but there was plenty of excitement in the other three games.
Houston 38, Tulsa 31
Is Tulsa getting better, or is Houston struggling? It could be a little bit of both, but watching the Golden Hurricane hang right in with the Cougars the entire game was startling. Houston kept Tulsa in the game with 10 penalties and three turnovers, and they gave up a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. It took a Dane Evans fumble and Emeke Egbule return for a touchdown with 1:33 remaining in the game to give Houston their margin of victory.
But even then the game wasn’t over. Tulsa responded and drove all the way to the Houston 1-yard line. With one timeout and 12 seconds left, Evans rushed his team up to the line of scrimmage and instead of spiking the ball, called a run to James Flanders. Houston had way too many players on the field and at least two players offside, but the referees missed both penalties and Flanders was stuffed by one of the offside players. (Evans also could have thrown to a wide-open Keevan Lucas, since no one was within 30 yards of him.) After calling their last timeout, Evans completed a short out to tight end Jesse Brubaker. However, Brubaker ran his route too shallow and never crossed the goal line before being gang tackled.
For Houston, Greg Ward Jr. threw for 254 yards and ran for 142, while Dillon Birden chipped in 82 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Tulsa was led by Evans’s 365 passing yards. Justin Hobbs caught eight passes for 129 yards and a score.
Temple 26, UCF 25
The Owls straight up stole this game. UCF scored on four of its first five possessions and had a 25-7 lead in the second quarter after McKenzie Milton’s 63-yard touchdown run. (Milton started over Justin Holman and will apparently be the Knights’ starting quarterback going forward.) But UCF generated very little offense for the rest of the game, and committed 12 penalties for 110 yards to hurt their chances even more.
Temple slowly chipped away with a Jahad Thomas touchdown run and two field goals by Aaron Boumerhi to cut the lead to 25-20. Still, it looked like the Knights would survive when Philip Walker was sacked and lost a fumble with 1:56 to play. Even when they punted and the Owls got the ball back with 40 seconds to go, they had to go 70 yards with no timeouts.
Incredibly, Walker completed three straight passes to Ventell Bryant of 20, 16, and 26 yards to bring the ball to the UCF 8-yard line with ten seconds left. (Before this final drive, he was only 8-for-20 for 97 yards passing.) Then instead of spiking the ball, Walker lobbed a pass to Keith Kirkwood in the back of the end zone. Kirkwood made a fantastic catch and got a foot down in bounds for the winning score with one second on the clock.
Thomas ran for 120 yards and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving). Temple’s defense also sacked Milton seven times. Tre’Quan Smith had a 55-yard touchdown reception for the Knights.
Memphis 24, Tulane 14
Neither team played very well on Friday night. The Tigers and Green Wave combined for six turnovers, 13 punts, 14 penalties, and 8-for-30 on third down conversions. But big plays carried Memphis through this one. Running back Darrell Henderson had a 46-yard touchdown catch and a 45-yard touchdown run, and Doroland Dorceus added a 61-yard run.
Glen Cuiellette had another dismal game for Tulane, completing only 11 of 30 passes and running 18 times for just 35 yards. Lazedrick Thompson did have 69 yards rushing on only eight carries, and Zachary Block averaged almost 46 yards per punt. For Memphis, Riley Ferguson was 21-for-34 for 236 yards. Phil Mayhue caught four passes for 74 yards.
Best moment of the game: Listen at the 1:29 mark of the highlight reel where the ESPN analyst clearly burps on the air.