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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Football

Cougars sent packing by Sooners in 49-31 loss


Senior quarterback D'Eriq King threw for two touchdowns and 167 yards in the Cougars' losing effort. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar cougars uh vs ou

Senior quarterback D’Eriq King threw for two touchdowns and 167 yards in the Cougars’ losing effort. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

NORMAN, Oklahoma — Dana Holgorsen’s Houston head coaching debut against No. 4 Oklahoma ended in disappointment Sunday night at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium after the Sooners beat the Cougars 49-31 in front of a sold-out crowd of over 85,000.

“We kept fighting,” Holgorsen said following the loss. “I was proud of them. I thought we were a little wide-eyed early. We settled down and had a good second quarter.”

While the Cougars’ coach felt confident heading into the matchup, all-around struggles for UH led to its first loss of the season.

Offensive woes

Houston’s offense was troubled from the moment it stepped on Owen Field.

The Cougars first four drives of 2019 resulted in punts, a stat Holgorsen was not proud of.

“You gotta convert some tough downs,” Holgorsen said. “There was a couple times in the red zone that we didn’t convert.”

It would not be until its fifth drive of the night late in the first half that UH would flip the switch on offense.

Junior running back Kyle Porter, thanks to a 23-yard pass from King, opened Houston’s scoring with the team’s first touchdown of the season a little over 10 minutes into the second quarter.

UH again shrank OU’s lead just six minutes later with 2:28 left in the first half after junior kicker Dalton Witherspoon drilled one through the uprights to put the Cougars within two scores of the Sooners.

Cougars finished the first half trailing the Sooners 21-10 and did not see the end zone again until late in third quarter.

With the help of a couple Oklahoma penalties during the drive, senior running back Mulbah Car punched in a 7-yard touchdown run to cut the Sooners’ lead, which had grown to 25 by the 12:38 mark in the third.

Car, who ran for 76 yards on nine attempts, shared Holgorsen’s thoughts on the offense’s demeanor throughout the game.

“Like coach said,” Car reiterated, “we fought.”

Dismal defense

While the offense picked up late in the second quarter, Houston’s defense struggled throughout the entire game.

In the first half alone, the Cougars gave up three touchdowns, including a 45-yard scoring pass from Oklahoma senior quarterback Jalen Hurts to a wide open CeeDee Lamb, a junior wide receiver for the Sooners.

The second half did not fare much better for Houston.

It took Oklahoma just five plays to cap off the third quarter’s first minutes with a 75-yard, touchdown-scoring drive that put the Sooners up 28-10 after the made extra point.

By the end of the quarter, the Cougars let up two more touchdowns, digging themselves into a 42-17 hole that it did not escape.

While UH’s defense as a whole looked shaky in its first game after Holgorsen’s offseason reconstruction of the unit, junior safety Grant Stuard stood out in the Cougars’ loss

Earning a start at the nickel for Houston, Grant was the team’s defensive MVP after a 14 tackle performance that included nine solo takedowns.

Although Grant played well, Holgorsen had an issue with Houston’s overall defense.

“You have to get some stops,” he said.

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