7:05 PM ET, October 30, 2004
7:05 PM ET, October 30, 2004
TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Rice coach Ken Hatfield didn't want Tulsa's Ashlan Davis to get his hands on a kickoff return after Davis raced 100 yards against Boise State and 93 yards against Nevada for touchdowns the previous two weeks.
So, with Rice trailing 29-22 in the fourth quarter Saturday night, Hatfield ordered kicker Luke Juist to pooch kick. But Davis raced from the goal line to the 17 to field the short kick and then proceeded to tie an NCAA record with an 83-yard touchdown, helping TU to a 39-22 victory.
The only previous player in NCAA history to score on kickoff returns in three consecutive games was Stan Brown of Purdue in 1970.
"We lined up in our normal return look, then as the kicker approached the ball we just sprinted Davis to the middle of the field," said TU coach Steve Kragthorpe.
"It was certainly a huge play. It was one of those plays where you could see us catch our breath and you could see some of the wind taken out of their sails," he said.
"It was a seven-point game and momentum is clearly on our side," Hatfield said. "I thought we would win the game. And then he takes the kickoff back for a touchdown. He does a great job for them every game. The kick return just broke our back."
Davis, a 5-foot-9, 177-pound transfer Tyler (Texas) Junior College, also scored TU's first touchdown on a 52-yard bomb from James Killian.
Davis' contributions helped TU salvage its first victory of the season over a Division I-A opponent. The Hurricane had lost heartbreakers the previous two weeks despite amassing 90 points.
This time TU kept up the offensive fireworks with 421 yards, as Killian passed for 211 yards and ran for two scores. Uril Parrish had 114 yards rushing and Brandon Diles 92.
Tulsa slowed the nation's leading rushing attack, holding Rice to 220 yards -- well below its average of 328.1.
"We changed things up in our game plan," said TU safety Clint Rountree. "We went back and looked at tape of how other teams like Army, Navy and Air Force played the option. We changed our defense and it worked pretty well for us."
After scoring just 13 points in the first quarter all year, TU exceeded that total on the strength of Killians 52-yard strike to Davis to start the scoring and a 3-yard burst by Parrish that capped a 75-yard drive all on the ground.
Rice kept it close on three field goals by Juist, the final set up when Diles fumbled at the TU 19 with one second left in the half.
After Killian's 3-yard run made it 21-9, TU attempted an onside kick which Rice recovered at the TU 47. The Owls scored in two plays, starting with a 21-yard run by Mike Falco and capped by a 26-yard scamper down the left sideline by Ed Bailey, who led Rice with 117 yards on 20 carries.
Killian's second TD plunge capped a 77-yard drive including a 56-yard pass to tight end Garrett Mills.
Rice quarterback Joel Armstrong ran for 73 yards and completed 9 of 18 passes for 139 yards.