Houston downs FSU, clinch 13-1 season with Peach Bowl win
The Cougars dominated defensively to earn a 38-24 win over the Florida State Seminoles and clinch the title of Peach Bowl champions in Atlanta, which head coach Tom Herman called “the greatest win” in his life.
Under Herman, the Cougars had arguably the best season in UH history, finishing 13-1 with a conference championship win and a Peach Bowl championship, giving the Cougars and their fans the success they wanted.
Junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. went 25-41 for 238 yards passing and one touchdown while adding 67 yards on 20 rushing attempts and two scores with his legs.
Senior safety Trevon Stewart had a stellar game on the defensive side of the ball, collecting two interceptions, one fumble recovery and four tackles in his final game as a Cougar.
While he’s no stranger to success in big games, Herman also said this means something more than all of those.
“Hats off to our staff, our players and our administration,” Herman said. “It feels incredible.”
The team came into this game a seven-point underdog and nine places below FSU in the rankings, but senior running back Kenneth Farrow said they didn’t mind.
“It’s been like that all season, with Memphis and Navy, even after we beat them,” Farrow said. “It took this game for people to know that we want respect and now they have to give it to us.”
Senior linebacker Elandon Roberts, one of the many Cougars playing his final game in a UH uniform, also talked about what the wins means for the program on a broader scale.
“It was a great team win,” Roberts said. “We wanted to go out and earn the respect of the nation. We fought hard this season to prove that Houston football is back and in full flow.”
The Cougars went 64 yards in 11 plays, where Ward capped it off with a seven-yard scramble for the score, putting UH up 7-0.
The teams traded possessions back and forth until midway through the second quarter when junior wide receiver found his fellow senior wide out Chance Allen on a 20-yard touchdown pass, putting UH up 14-3.
The very next drive, the Cougars forced a fumble from Seminole running back Dalvin Cook and senior safety Trevon Stewart recovered it on the FSU 17.
The Cougars took the lead into the half after a strong start, leading 21-3.
In the second half, the Seminoles started to mount a comeback, starting with a touchdown in their first drive, but the Cougars forced a pair of interceptions on their next two drives to swing back the momentum.
UH added a field goal early in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 24-10, before the Seminoles cut the lead to one score with a touchdown.
The Cougars and Seminoles traded touchdowns, bringing the score to 31-24 with 4:55 left in the game.
In a crucial drive, UH took advantage of a short field to help run some time off the clock.
Sophomore quarterback Kyle Postma played a big role for the Cougars as he came in for an injured Ward to pick up two key first downs, the first a seven-yard rush and the second a 29-yard rush, which set UH up in the red zone.
The Cougars capitalized one a two-yard touchdown run from senior running back Ryan Jackson, sealing the win by a score of 38-24.
Stewart said how the mentality that Herman instilled when he arrived at Houston paid off this season.
“When he came in, Coach Herman said that he was going to give us the hardest workouts in college football history,” Stewart said. “He wanted our backs against the wall so we could face adversity and come out on the other side. Today, we all did our jobs and look what happened.”