Tulsa forced six turnovers in the first half and scored three touchdowns on six offensive plays in the third quarter to blow by Hawaii 62-35 in today’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl before an Aloha Stadium crowd of 41,089.
The win over the No. 24-ranked Warriors gives Tulsa a 10-3 record for the season. Hawaii dropped to 10-4 as the two teams combined for 1,081 yards. Senior Greg Salas led all receivers with 13 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to overcome five interceptions by the Warriors in the opening half.
Trailing 27-14 at the intermission, Hawaii took the opening drive of the second half and went 76 yards for a touchdown. UH quarterback Bryant Moniz found wideout Salas alone in the end zone from 5 yards out as Scott Enos added the PAT to cut Tulsa’s lead to six with 7:28 left in the third.
But the Golden Hurricane quickly responded to the challenge with a two-play, 74-yard drive that ended on a 15-yard scoring pass from Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne to wide receiver Jameel Owens to build the margin back to 13 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors responded with a quick drive of their own, going 75 yards on three plays. The big one was a 44-yard completion to Jeremiah Ostrowski from Moniz that set up the 1-yard scoring run by Alex Green to make it 34-28 with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
Tulsa struck quickly on its ensuing series, needing only two plays to go 75 yards. This time, it was running back Damaris Johnson who made Hawaii pay with a 67-yard scamper around the right side to put Tulsa back up 41-28 with 4:57 left in the third. Both teams scored four touchdowns in a 2:31 span.
The Golden Hurricane held Hawaii on the next series, then scored on two plays once again. Kinne hit a wide open Thomas Roberson from 47 yards out to give Tulsa a 48-28 lead with 3:12 left in the third.
Hawaii pulled within 13 on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Moniz to Royce Pollard with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter. The drive was set up on a fumble recovery by UH safety Richard Torres.
Tulsa responded with another easy score from 3 yards out by Alex Singleton, his second touchdown run of the game to make it 55-35 with 7:00 left in the game. The score was set up on a 62-yard completion from Kinne to Trae Johnson.
Kinne had one more score in him late as he completed a 9-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 1:16 left to give Tulsa a 62-35 lead. Kinne completed 17 of 31 passes for 343 yards and three scores. Moniz threw for 411 yards and three touchdowns, but his four picks were too much for the Warriors to overcome.
The Golden Hurricane built a 17-point advantage early in the second quarter thanks in part to back-to-back interception returns for touchdowns by cornerback John Flanders and linebacker Curnelius Amick.
UH quarterback Shane Austin, in for an injured Moniz, was under a heavy rush and threw an ill-advised pass that Tulsa cornerback Flanders returned 54 yards as he hurdled over Austin for the score. Place-kicker Kevin Fitzpatrick added the PAT to make it 17-7 with 11:08 left in the second quarter.
Moniz, who went out earlier with a stomach strain, came back in, only to throw his third interception of the game as Amick also returned it 54 yards for a score as Fitzpatrick added the PAT to make it 24-7 with 9:34 left in the half.
Moniz and Salas cut that margin to 10 as Salas hauled in a 55-yard pass that set up an 18-yard scoring strike from Moniz to Salas to make it 24-14 with 2:20 left in the half.
After Hawaii held Tulsa on downs, Salas fumbled a punt return that gave the Golden Hurricane the ball at the UH 11. The defense held once again as Tulsa was forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal to make it 27-14 with 18 seconds left in the half.
The University of Hawaii football team overcame a slow opening quarter to finally get on the board in the second to cut Tulsa’s lead to 10-7.
Both of Tulsa’s scoring drives were set up off Hawaii turnovers, including a 52-yard interception return of an errant Moniz pass by Amick.
With a pass rusher in his face, Moniz’s pass sailed into the linebacker’s hands as he picked up blockers and returned it to the Hawaii 3-yard line. From there, Tulsa, which went three and out on its opening drive, needed only one play to find paydirt.
Singleton took the handoff on a simple dive play to score and give the Golden Hurricane a 7-0 lead with 12:29 left in the opening period.
Hawaii took its next possession the length of the field only to have Moniz throw his second pick of the game. This time, Tulsa linebacker Tanner Antle stepped in front of the intended target in the end zone to foil the Hawaii drive.
The Golden Hurricane built the advantage to 10-0 with 1:29 left in the opening quarter on a 42-yard field by Fitzpatrick. An 8-yard punt by UH’s Alex Dunnachie gave Tulsa outstanding field position, but the defense held the Golden Hurricane to the field goal.
With Moniz shaken up late in the first quarter Austin came off the bench and led Hawaii to its opening score of the game on a 2-yard run off an option play. Enos added the PAT to make it 10-7 with 12:54 left in the second quarter. Austin’s run was the 10th play of the 59-yard scoring drive.