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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sports

Comeback kids


For the last several years, UH fans have jokingly referred to the football team as the ‘Cardiac Coogs.’

It’s a fine nickname, given the Cougars’ penchant for pulling off heart-stopping comebacks over the last few seasons.

But, perhaps a new nickname is in order.

How about the ‘Clutch Coogs?’

Yeah, we know it doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Cardiac Coogs.’

But what better term to fully describe the way the Cougars have performed this season?

For all their issues on defense, the Cougars remain as clutch as ever. No matter what the score or how much time remains, one hardly ever gets the sense that the Cougars are out of the game.

Any number of teams would have crumbled under the circumstances the Cougars faced in Saturday’s miraculous 46-45 comeback win over Tulsa.

Most teams wouldn’t have been able to survive after leaving as many points on the field as the Cougars did. Most teams wouldn’t have recovered an onside kick with 21 seconds remaining and moved into position for a game-winning field goal with three seconds left.

The Cougars, however, aren’t anything like most teams. They make the right plays at the biggest moments.

The Cougars would rather not have games come down to the final plays, but they’re better than most teams at winning games the hard way.

‘We can handle these type of games as long as we have to,’ head coach Kevin Sumlin said. ‘It beats the alternative, so you don’t have any choice if you want to win.’

‘Like I said last week, (when) you get in those situations, game plans change, and your job is to win. However you can do it, you do it. Over the course of the last four or five weeks, we’ve found all kinds of ways to do that.’

And all sorts of previously unnoticed players have provided clutch performances.

No one player was more clutch Saturday than redshirt freshman kicker Matt Hogan, who became a hero after kicking a 51-yard field goal as time expired.’

Hogan was 4-of-4 on field goals and 4-of-4 on extra-point attempts against Tulsa, and every point was needed. Since beating out Jordan Mannisto and Ben Bell for the starting placekicking duties three weeks ago, Hogan is 15-of-15 on extra-point attempts and 7-of-7 on field goals.

There was wide receiver Tim Monroe, who recovered the onside kick near the end of Saturday’s game. It was also Monroe who had a 55-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown during the Cougars’ 50-43 win over Southern Miss on Oct. 31.

Safety Nick Saenz (team-high 10 tackles) also stepped up, forcing a fumble at the start of the fourth quarter that gave the Cougars some momentum. Saenz did the same against Southern Miss, returning a blocked extra point 101 yards for two points in the second quarter of that contest.’

Hogan, Monroe and Saenz each made big plays. Combined with the standout performances of quarterback Case Keenum, wide receivers James Cleveland and Patrick Edwards and kick returner Tyron Carrier, it was just enough to carry UH to its fifth consecutive win.

All things considered, it was simply another day at the office for the ‘Clutch Coogs.’


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