8:00 PM ET, November 3, 2011
Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL
ORLANDO, Fla. -- After opening the season with three losses to opponents rankd in the top 10, Tulsa got its season back on track last month with four convincing victories and by maintaining its unblemished record in Conference USA.
So far November is off to a nice start for the Golden Hurricane as well.
It was the Golden Hurricane's first victory this season after trailing at halftime and came despite settling for field goals on three trips inside the red zone.
The Knights (4-5, 2-3) lost at home for the first time this season, while Tulsa (6-3, 5-0) remained unbeaten in the league.
UCF, the defending conference champion, controlled the game early, but failed on a fourth-down pass late in the fourth quarter that allowed Tulsa to run out the clock.
Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said he was proud of the mettle his team showed in the second half, but said UCF -- which the Golden Hurricane have played twice in the C-USA title game since 2005 -- could have easily walked out with the victory.
"We did not underestimate UCF," Blankenship said. "Road wins in this conference are tough and I count this as a big one. ... They made it tough on us."
Kinne finished 15 of 28 for 203 yards and he led the Golden Hurricane in rushing with 92 yards on 14 carries. Tulsa finished with 251 yards rushing against a UCF defense that came in allowing a league-low 85 yards per game.
It was just enough to outduel Knights' quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who had one of his best games throwing for 226 yards and one touchdown.
"It was a big win," Kinne said. "It wasn't pretty at times. But in the fourth quarter we got the job done when we needed to. That was really our first close game of the year. ... So this was a good one for our team. We're going to need that down the road."
Blankenship gave a lot of the credit to his quarterback, who he said "willed us down the field" with his scrambling and throwing ability in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa entered Thursday's game injury-free but played part of the second half without running back Trey Watts, who left the game after taking a blow to the head.
Cornerback Milton Howell, who tied a school record with three interceptions last week, was also shaken up several times in the game.
The Golden Hurricane came in having outscored their opponents 154-71 in the last four wins, but the Knights dominated time of possession and used a field goal to briefly take a 17-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa needed just over three minutes to drive 72 yards to take a 24-17 lead on a 16-yard pass from Kinne to Clay Sears with 8:23 to play.
UCF responded quickly, using a 41-yard pass from Godfrey to J.J. Worton to set up a first and goal. But a fourth-down pass by Godfrey into the end zone was incomplete.
Tulsa took over on downs and was able to run out the clock.
"It was a game of big plays, and we didn't make enough of them," Knights coach George O'Leary said. "I told the players the effort was good. It's just that when you have the opportunity to make plays, you've got to make them. We didn't do that."
The Knights put their pregame strategy of controlling time of possession into action in the first half, holding the ball for more than 19 minutes.
UCF went to work quickly on its opening drive, though, needing only seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Godfrey to Worton.
Tulsa tied it two series later following a 19-yard run by Willie Carter -- the first offensive score the Knights have given up at home this season. But that momentum was short-lived with the Golden Hurricane having to settle for field goals on two subsequent trips inside the red zone later in the half.
With more than five minutes to work with before halftime, the Knights were able to add their second touchdown -- a 6-yard run by Ronnie Weaver -- to take a 1-point halftime lead.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-13||5-12|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-3|
|TD||10:57||J.J. Worton 28 Yd Pass From Jeff Godfrey (Shawn Moffitt Kick)||0||7|
|TD||03:17||Willie Carter 19 Yd Run (Kevin Fitzpatrick Kick)||7||7|
|FG||11:51||Kevin Fitzpatrick 36 Yd||10||7|
|FG||05:37||Kevin Fitzpatrick 25 Yd||13||7|
|TD||01:07||Ronnie Weaver 6 Yd Run (Shawn Moffitt Kick)||13||14|
|FG||12:36||Kevin Fitzpatrick 25 Yd||16||14|
|FG||11:55||Shawn Moffitt 29 Yd||16||17|
|TD||08:23||Clay Sears 16 Yd Pass From G.J. Kinne (G.J. Kinne Pass To Bryan Burnham For Two-Point Conversion)||24||17|