Tulsa could not get any breaks as it got stymied by Bowling Green’s defense in a 34-7 loss to the Falcons Thursday night at Doyt L. Perry Stadium.
Experience proved to be a plus for Bowling Green, who had most of their starters back compared to TU, who lost several from last year’s Conference USA Championship team.
The Golden Hurricane defense hung tough in the first half, limiting Bowling Green to just a two field goals in the first half. During that time, Tulsa (0-1) had chances to score and pull ahead of the Falcons but came up empty each time.
Bowling Green led just 6-0 at halftime, but the last points, a 28-yard field goal by Tyler Tate right before the break, proved to be the groundbreaking surge the Falcons would unleash in the second half.
“We just never got any traction. Bowling Green is really good on defense,” Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. “We knew that up front. They pretty clearly came in and loaded up the box and forced us to throw the ball, and in the first half especially we were just anemic throwing the football.”
In the second half, William Houston scored three touchdowns, each from one yard, and Ryan Burbick ran a punt back 67 yards to make the score 34-0.
Tulsa could not get on the scoreboard until 45 second remained in the game, when Derek Patterson caught a 27-yard TD from back-up quarterback Dane Evans.
The Golden Hurricane were limited to 51 yards of rushing offense and totaled 222 on the evening. Ja’Terian Douglass was the leading rusher with 22 yards on 12 carries. Cody Green passed for 172 yards on 17-of-34 attempts.
Keyarris Garrett (54 yards) and Trey Watts (33 yards) each caught five passes to lead TU in receiving.
Travis Green led Bowling Green on the ground with 93 yards on 22 carries. Matt Johnson threw for 151 yards on 11-of-23 attempts.
One play that hurt Tulsa and set up a Bowling Green TD was a fake punt attempt that failed.
Down 13-0 with at the end of the third quarter, Tulsa was faced with 4th-and-1 from its 16-yard line. It elected to go for a fake and punter Cole Way was stopped by Cameron Truss at the line of scrimmage.
It set up the Falcons’ next TD early in the fourth quarter.
Down 3-0 in the first half, TU missed chances to tie the game as field goal attempts of 34 and 37 yards by Carl Salazar came up short.
The Hurricane also missed a chance to take the lead with over eight minutes left in the second quarter, when on first down at the Bowling Green 18, Patterson caught a pass from Green, gained seven yards before fumbling the ball away. Jerry “Boo Boo” Gates forced the fumble and Aaron Foster made the recovery.
The drive had been set up by an interception from Dwight Dobbins.
Tulsa will play Colorado State at 6 p.m., Sept. 7 at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium.