(Saturday, October 17th)
Final Score: (23) Houston 44, Tulane 16
New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Case Keenum completed 30-of-43 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns, as the 23rd-ranked Houston Cougars used a 20- point third quarter to beat the Tulane Green Wave, 44-16, in a Conference USA battle at the Superdome.
Bryce Beall rushed for 64 yards and two scores on 16 carries for the Cougars (5-1, 1-1 Conference USA), who were coming off a 31-24 win over Mississippi State. Justin Johnson had a pair of rushing TDs and 30 yards on five carries, while L.J. Castile and James Cleveland each had a touchdown catch for Houston, which has a seven-game winning streak versus Tulane.
"We came out and took care of business in the second half. The defense did a great job of getting stops. Special teams had that huge play, and I think that kind of ignited us and got us going. It was pretty cool there in the start of the third quarter, which is something we have been focusing on," Keenum said.
Antoine Duplessis had a TD catch for the Green Wave (2-4, 0-3), who were coming off a 31-10 loss to Marshall. Joe Kemp connected on 10-of-15 passes for 124 yards and an interception and Ryan Griffin completed 12-of-18 passes for 126 yards and a TD for Tulane. Andre Anderson rushed for 108 yards on 18 carries, while Jeremy Williams hauled in six passes for 63 yards in defeat.
"I was really pleased with the effort of our football team in the first half. But it was like a 12-round fight. They eventually wore us down and knocked us out. One of the big plays was obviously the blocked punt. Our right guard missed the punt block and then the guy broke through our shield and blocked it and they scored. I don't think we stopped them in the second half. And you know, you're talking about one of the best offensive teams in the country, the best quarterback in the country. They score a lot points, and they did," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said.
On the first drive of the third quarter, the Cougars put together an eight- play, 60-yard scoring march. Johnson ended it with a three-yard rushing TD to put Houston ahead 15-6.
Tulane did little on offense during its ensuing possession and was forced to punt. However, the Cougars blocked the punt and recovered the ball at the six- yard-line. After Keenum failed to complete a pass on first down, he connected with Cleveland in the right-hand corner of the end zone for a 22-6 margin with 9:32 remaining in the third.
Beall's one-yard TD run made it 29-6 with 3:19 left. Chaz Rodriguez's 34-yard reception highlighted the nine-play, 83-yard drive.
The Green Wave used a four-yard TD pass from Griffin to Duplessis to cut the gap to 29-13 with 14:09 to go in the fourth, but Johnson's six-yard rushing touchdown and a successful two-point conversion made it 37-13 three minutes later.
Ross Thevenot's 27-yard field goal with 7:19 remaining and Keenum's seven-yard TD pass to Castile with 2:43 to go accounted for the final margin.
"You know, I'm proud of them. I thought they came out and created their own energy. They moved the ball offensively to score, stopped them on defense, and blocked a punt. Those are the kind of things that on the road, you couldn't have a better series of events to start the second half," Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The Cougars notched a field goal on their first possession of the game to take an early edge. Tyron Carrier's 27-yard punt return set Houston up at its own 45, and Ben Bell's 22-yard field goal capped drive. On the ensuing Green Wave possession, Thevenot drilled a 43-yard field goal to tie the contest with 3:24 left in the first.
Tulane bridged the first and second frames with a 12-play, 66-yard drive that Thevenot capped with a 35-yard field goal.
The Cougars, though, responded by marching right down the field, and on the 10th play of the drive Beall rushed into the end zone from one yard out. The missed extra point left Houston's lead at 9-6 with 8:25 left in the half.
Bell missed a 25-yard field goal late in the second period to keep it a three- point game heading into the locker room.
Houston owns an 11-4 edge over Tulane in the all-time series...The Cougars outgained the Green Wave, 516-437...Tulane travels to Southern Miss next Saturday, while Houston welcomes SMU to town.
10/17 22:50:55 ET