Tulsa relishes third straight win

Updated: October 5, 2003, 1:25 PM ET

TULSA, Okla. -- In three games, Tulsa has had more victories than quarterback James Kilian has known in three seasons of playing. And each win, he says, "gets bigger and better."

Tulsa rejoiced when it beat Division I-AA opponent Texas State. Then came a 54-7 win over Arkansas State. Now, the team picked in the preseason to finish at the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference has beaten the one picked to finish at the top.

"To come out victorious over a team like Hawaii, which is a great football team," Kilian said, "is huge for us."

What's getting better and better, said Hawaii coach June Jones, is the Golden Hurricane (3-2, 1-0 WAC).

"And they'll win more games in the conference," he predicted.

The Warriors (2-3, 1-1) were expecting most of what Tulsa delivered Saturday in its 27-16 victory, Jones said.

But Hawaii didn't tackle as well as it should have in the second half, he said, and "offensively, we just couldn't get anything going."

Timmy Chang, who leads a pass offense that had averaged 379.5 yards a game, finished with 240 yards. Hawaii had a total 371 yards to Tulsa's 426 and scored no points in the second half.

"We started getting more pressure on the passer in the second half, and tried to disrupt their rhythm," Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "All three parts started to click at the same time -- offense, defense and special teams.

"For the sake of my heart, we probably need to do it a little earlier in the game," he said.

The Golden Hurricane trailed Hawaii by 13 points, but got its break with 4:39 to go in the half when Oliver Fletcher intercepted Chang and put Tulsa on Hawaii's 44 yard line.

Kilian and Monroe Nichols combined on a sneak pass after a fake reverse to gain 14 yards, and moments later, Kilian found Richard McQuillar wide open in the middle for a 22-yard touchdown pass.

It was the sixth time Tulsa has scored off of a turnover this season.

Tulsa scored again on a 49-yard third quarter field goal by Brad DeVault and took the lead on Jermaine Landrum's 15-yard touchdown run with 11:06 to go.

Kilian led Tulsa with 115 yards rushing, 106 yards passing and even had two receptions on sneak plays. He had a 29-yard carry that set up Uril Parrish's 9-yard touchdown run with 5:59 remaining.

"He's a very tough kid," Jones said afterward. "He took some licks out there and just kept on fighting. He's obviously a talented football player."

Kilian credited a "stellar" defense and an offensive line that enabled Tulsa to run the ball.

The Golden Hurricane, a team that hasn't had a winning season since 1991, has now won three straight for the first time since the 2000 season. The come-from-behind victory was the biggest for Tulsa since it overcame a 14 point deficit to beat Texas-El Paso in 1995.

"With all aspects of the game against a very quality opponent," Kilian said, "this is probably the best game I've been involved in."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index