Tulane shocks Houston 38-31 in dramatic finish
Despite a 14-point lead heading into halftime, Houston dropped its American Athletic Conference opener against Tulane 38-31 Thursday night in New Orleans in a game that saw the Green Wave outscore the Cougars 24-3 in the final 40 minutes of the game.
The loss marks only the second ever AAC opener that UH has lost since the conference was formed in 2013, with the only other one being a 2014 17-12 defeat to UCF.
It also marks the third-straight week where the Cougars underperformed in the second half, a trend seen in their win versus Prairie View A&M and its loss against Washington State.
Defensive struggles continue
While Houston’s defense had some highlights, including four sacks for 16 yards and a fumble recovery, which extended UH’s streak of consecutive games with a takeaway to 21, the Cougars could not contain the Green Wave.
Among the lowlights was a trick play late in the fourth quarter from Tulane.
With less than a minute left in the game, the Green Wave lined up in victory formation seemingly ready to send the game into overtime, but a fake kneel and subsequent 18-yard rush from Tulane kept the game going.
On the next play, graduate quarterback Justin McMillan threw to graduate wide receiver Jalen McCleskey for a 53-yard touchdown pass to put Tulane up 38-31 with just three seconds left.
McMillan finished with 186 passing yards and three touchdowns, and the Green Wave ended with 511 yards of total offense.
Defensively, the Cougars struggled, but their offense played well.
Run game improves
Offensively, Houston stood out.
The Cougars put up 533 yards of total offense against the Green Wave, its highest of the season so far.
Senior quarterback D’Eriq King rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.
Houston’s two top running backs also contributed, with senior Patrick Carr and junior Kyle Porter rushing for 63 and 60 yards, respectively.
Before leaving the game due to injury, Porter went airborne to score an over-the-top 1-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
Even junior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson, who led the team with 95 receiving yards and a touchdown, got in on the rushing action, carrying the ball 34 yards on one attempt.
King on his throne
King, despite the loss, had a record-setting night for himself and got things started early for the Cougars.
In Houston’s first play from scrimmage of the game, King connected with Stevenson on the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown pass and put Houston up 7-0.
A quarter later, King found senior wide receiver Keith Corbin for a 28-yard touchdown pass that extended Houston’s lead, which had grown to 21-7 by then.
King’s shining moment, however, came just a drive later with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter.
Following a 35-yard touchdown run to put the Cougars up 28-7, King broke former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s FBS record for most consecutive games with a passing and rushing touchdown with 15.
Although the Manvel native performed well in the loss, the Cougars dropped to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the AAC.