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Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Cougars weather storm against Golden Hurricane


The Cougars escaped with a narrow 38-31 win on Saturday. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

Football was just inches away from suffering their second consecutive defeat, but thanks to an impressive late game defensive effort, the Cougars were able to escape.

After a nerve-wracking goal line stand in the waning moments of the game, the team defeated the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane 38-31 at TDECU Stadium Saturday.

“Really excited for our guys,” said Herman. “They can take a punch in the face and respond. Again, it’s another example of winning is really really hard.”

Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. did not find the end zone through the air or ground, but made his presence felt with his efficient play. The senior finishes the game with 254 yards passing with just eight incompletions. Ward baffled the Golden Hurricane defense en route to 142 yards on the ground on just 25 carries.

Junior wide receiver Linell Bonner was the favorite target of Ward yet against as he consistently found him all night.

Bonner wasted none of Ward’s passes on Saturday by catching all 13 passes thrown his way for 97 yards. Despite not finding the end zone, it was Bonner’s timely catches that helped to extend Cougar drives throughout the game.

Transfer running back Dillon Birden is making the most of his time in the starting lineup while starter Duke Catalon works his way back from a concussion. Catalon missed his third consecutive game on Saturday.

Birden rushed for 82 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns.

The Golden Hurricane moved the ball up and down the field with relative ease on their way to accumulating 459 yards against the Cougars. In spite of their struggles, it was the Cougar defense’s clutch stops down the stretch that sealed the deal against Tulsa.

After sophomore safety Garrett Davis forced a fumble on the Tulsa quarterback, sophomore linebacker Emeke Egbule scooped the loose ball and returned it 24 yards to put the Cougars up 38-31.

“When I saw Garrett Davis strip (the ball) out, I just knew I had to do something with it to keep us in the game,” said Egbule. “I didn’t want to let my team down, so I just did what I had to do.”

On the ensuing drive, Tulsa marched down the field with just minutes play and was on the verge of tying the game at 38.

With one play remaining and less than five yards needed for a score, Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans used a play action rollout to keep the Cougars off balance.

Evans found Jesse Brubaker for a completion within the one-yard line, but swarming Cougar defenders stopped the threat with just inches to spare.

“You should never take winning for granted,” said Herman. “So I’m excited as heck. We’re going to celebrate the heck out of this one.”

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