C-USA NOTEBOOK: Comebacks not new to Keenum
Opponents have learned not to count out UH quarterback Case Keenum in the fourth quarter.
Keenum, who has a knack for engineering improbable fourth-quarter comebacks, added to his legend in Saturday’s 29-28 come-from-behind win over Texas Tech. The Cougars trailed by five points with 5:47 remaining, but Keenum marched them on a 16-play, 95-yard drive, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown run with 49 seconds left that proved to be the game-winner.
With the Associated Press No. 12 Cougars set to open their Conference USA schedule against UTEP on Saturday, teams around the league are probably wary of having to face Keenum. He’s led his fair share of comebacks against C-USA teams.
Saturday’s game notwithstanding, here are some of the most memorable fourth-quarter comebacks of Keenum’s career:
2008: UH 42, UTEP 37′
The Cougars entered the final period trailing 28-16, but outscored the Miners 26-9 the rest of the way to complete a stunning comeback. Keenum was at the center of the charge, throwing two touchdown passes and scoring on a 1-yard run with 41 seconds left to put the Cougars ahead for good. Keenum hurt his own cause when he had a potential two-point conversion pass picked off and returned for a PAT that erased a 36-35 lead and put UTEP ahead by one. Fortunately for the Cougars, Keenum was able to make up for it on the next drive with another touchdown.’
2008: UH 44, SMU 38′
It’s tough to fathom how the Cougars didn’t lose this game. They trailed 35-23 heading into the fourth quarter, but that didn’t deter Keenum from working his magic. He orchestrated three scoring drives in that period, helping the Cougars to outscore the Mustangs 21-3 the rest of the way. The final two scores came within the last two and a half minutes of the game. Keenum sealed the comeback with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyron Carrier for the go-ahead score with 24 seconds remaining.’
2007: UH 56, Rice 48′
Rice held a commanding 48-35 lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but the Cougars’ defense buckled down and gave Keenum a chance to lead the charge. Keenum did just that, engineering three scoring drives to give the Cougars an amazing come-from-behind win. Keenum was assisted by running back Anthony Alridge, who rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-clincher with 2:20 remaining.’
2007: UH 38, Colorado State 27′
This wasn’t the most drastic of fourth-quarter comebacks put together by Keenum, but it stood out because he used primarily his legs to get the job done. Colorado State held a 27-24 lead for much of the final period, but Keenum rushed for two touchdowns in the final six minutes to help the Cougars pull out another heart-stopping win. Interestingly, this was the first fourth-quarter comeback of Keenum’s career.’
Nicholson out, but could return
The Cougars lost senior linebacker Matt Nicholson for the season when he injured his right knee in Saturday’s win against Texas Tech.
Nicholson told the Houston Chronicle that he would undergo surgery Friday to repair a torn medial collateral ligament and a partial tear in his anterior cruciate ligament. Because he played in only three games this season, he can petition the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver that would grant him a sixth year of eligibility.
It’s another premature ending to a season for Nicholson, who was limited to nine games in 2008 after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
‘It’s terrible for him,’ Sumlin said. ‘He’s a captain, and you hate to see that. Two years in a row, it’s horrible. I told him that after surgery, this will probably be the only game he’ll (be away from the team). He’s still going to be a big part of this team. He’s not going to be playing, but we still need his leadership.”
Golf finishes 7th in first tournament
The Cougars had their best round of golf Tuesday but were unable to move up the leaderboard of the Kansas Invitational, placing seventh.
Junior Matt Eschenburg led the way with a score of 222, good enough for a 14th-place tie.
The Cougars return to action Monday and Tuesday when they compete in the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic on the Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind.’ ‘ ‘