The Tulsa Golden Hurricane ravaged the University of Central Arkansas Bears and decisively beat them up both on the scoreboard and physically Saturday night at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium at Tulsa.
The Hurricane, of Conference-USA of NCAA Division I FBS, started with a flurry and built a 24-7 halftime lead on the way to a 41-14 victory, the first defeat of the season for the Bears (3-1) of Division I FCS.
In the first half, the Bears had several players (about seven regulars or starters) leave the game with a variety of injuries: linebacker Frank Newsome, defensive backs Seth Allison, Marcus Dumas, Jestin Love and Radarious Winston, defensive lineman Trey Lippe and quarterback Nathan Dick, who had a non-throwing shoulder injury.
"The speed of the game, and obviously their depth throughout the game made a difference," said UCA coach Clint Conque. "But I was encouraged in the third quarter, and really the entire second half, because defensively we played very hard and pretty well."
Tulsa (2-2) drove 62 yards in eight plays for its first touchdown, a 20-yard run by Demaris Johnson. Quarterback C.J. Kinne capped an 80-yard, 12-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay to put the Hurricane up 14-0 at 14:09 of the second quarter.
The Bears responded with an 80-yard, 11-play drive to get back into the game. Dick connected with Ken Robey for 15 and 18 yards, then connected on a 15-yarder to Dominique Crooms to set up Terence Bobo’s 1-yard run with 9:10 left in the half.
Tulsa then benefitted from a freak play when Kinne was hit by Markell Carter, the ball popped into the air and running back Trey Watts caught in on the run for a 28-yard touchdown that put Tulsa up 21-7.
Kevin Fitzpatrick added a 47-yard field goal with 55 seconds left in the half and followed that with a 31-yarder early in the second half as the Hurricane built a 27-7 cushion.
A promising UCA drive, engineered by quarterback Wynrick Smothers and with Bobo making some power runs, ended with Bobo losing a fumble at the Tulsa 4.
The Golden Hurricane capped their dominance with a 96-yard drive in 13 plays, resulting in a 5-yard TD pass from Kinne to Owens.
"The score was 27-7 and we fumble on the 4-yard line late in the third quarter," said Conque. "We punch that in there, it’s a two-score game. I told the team we really needed to get it to a one-score game in the fourth quarter and then we would find a way to win. "But Tulsa took that and re-focused and went 96 yards for a touchdown and that put it away.’
A 37-yard interception return by Dexter McColl set up JeTerian Douglas’ 20-yard touchdown run to give the Hurricane their final score with 9:28 left.
Smothers passed 11 yards to Isaiah Jackson to cap an 80-yard drive with 2:50 left to set the final margin.
The Golden Hurricane ended the game by taking a knee twice on on the UCA 12 against a worn-down Bear defense.
Smothers was 7 of 18 for 100 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Dick, who left the game for good in the second quarter, was 8 of 14 for 83 yards.
Hinton rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries while Bobo rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries.
For Tulsa Kinne was 22 of 33 for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Alex Singleton rushed 12 times for 93 yards.
The Bears have a needed non-game week before opening Southland Conference play at home against Northwestern State on Oct. 9.