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October 13, 2013

Tulsa gets much needed win at UTEP




EL PASO, Texas -- Cody Green threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead Tulsa over UTEP 34-20 Saturday night.

"It's big for us. We needed a conference win," said Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship. "We have no non-conference games left, so we have to crawl out of that hole one game at a time. We go into a bye week that will really help us. Hopefully we can get a little healed up and get ready for Tulane. It is very important to get that first one.

"I think that was the best execution we've had overall. We really played well early. We got into some bad field position late in the half and didn't get to dig out of it. I thought we had enough balance in what we were trying to do to keep them off balance."

Green scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter to give Tulsa (2-4, 1-1 Conference USA) a two-touchdown lead. He also threw TD passes of 24 and 35 yards to give the Golden Hurricane a 21-3 lead in the second quarter.

Green finished 14-of-17 for 226 yards.

"There was a sense of urgency through everybody," Green said after the win. "As an offense, we needed to put together a game for four quarters. We needed to help out our defense. We (the offense) needed to flex our muscles and show that we are the veteran group on the football team.

"Versus Rice in the second half, we started clicking. We just carried it over into this game. The balls were flying good. The O-line was doing their job like last year's O-line."

Autrey Golden returned the second half opening kickoff 100 yards for a UTEP (1-5, 0-3) touchdown -- his second 100-yard kickoff return of the season.

Jameill Showers connected with Jordan Leslie for a 71-yard touchdown pass to pull the Miners within 7 with one quarter remaining. Showers, who had thrown for 602 yards in his previous two games, was held to 166 passing yards.

"We were in a great situation, but we give up a big kickoff return and a short pass that turns into a long touchdown. Just like that, it's anybody's game," Blankenship described. "We have to do a better job closing it out. But tip your hat off to the Miners, because they never quit and kept fighting to the bitter end. Their quarterback does a great job. He's really elusive, hard to get down and takes care of the football pretty well."

While Tulsa's quarterback had his best game of the season, the Hurricane also produced 204 rushing yards on 46 carries. UTEP was stacking the box, but TU still pounded out 4.4 yards per carry.

"We felt like we needed to keep our defense off the field some, and to do that, we needed to run the football," said Blankenship. "That's what we do anyway, but they were really loading people up and putting extra hats in there and gave us a lot of blitzing. They made it tough, but we were able to find enough yards."

GAME NOTES:

• Senior running back Ja'Terian Douglas scored his second touchdown of the season on a 3-yard run at the 11:33 mark of the first quarter. It was also his 16th career rushing touchdown.

• Tulsa scored a touchdown on its first possession of the game for the first time this season. Last week against Rice, Tulsa scored on its first possession, but it was a field goal.

• Freshman receiver Keevan Lucas scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard reception from Cody Green at the 4:06 mark of the first quarter.

• Junior receiver Thomas Roberson caught a 49-yard pass from Cody Green. It was the longest pass play of the season for Tulsa, surpassing a 40-yard reception by Ja'Terian Douglas against Iowa State.

• Tulsa scored on its first three possessions for the first time this season. It was also the first time this season the Hurricane scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of a game.

• Green connected with Roberson for a 35-yard touchdown pass at the 14:50 mark of the second quarter. It was Green's second touchdown pass of the game and seventh of the season. The receiving touchdown was the third of the season for Roberson, and the 11th receiving touchdown of his career.

• Shawn Jackson intercepted a UTEP pass at the 4:49 mark of the second quarter. It was his third interception of the season and second in as many weeks.

• Carl Salazar made a 38-yard field goal at the 11:19 mark of the third quarter. It was his longest made field goal of the season. Salazar made his second field goal of the game, a 27-yard kick at the 2:42 mark of the third quarter. It was third game this season he has made multiple field goals in the game.

• Cody Green scored a rushing touchdown at the 10:47 mark of the fourth quarter. It was his first rushing touchdown of the season and fifth of his career at Tulsa.

• True freshman defensive back Will Barrow recorded his first career interception with :05 remaining in the game.

• The 34 points scored by Tulsa against UTEP were the most of the season by the Golden Hurricane.

• Trey Watts rushed for 142 yards in the game. He now has 2,751 career rushing yards, moving into third place on the Tulsa all-time charts. He surpassed Eric Richardson (2000-03), who rushed for 2,645 yards. Watts rushed for more than 100 yards for the third time this season and the 10th time in his career.

• Watts totaled 170 all-purpose yards, and now has 5,299 career all-purpose yards to move into 10th place on the Conference USA career list. He surpassed Matt Forte of Tulane (2004-07) who totaled 5,261 career all-purpose yards.

• Thomas Roberson caught five passes for 105 yards. It was Roberson's first 100-yard receiving game of his career.

• Shawn Jackson finished the game with 10 tackles. He now has 334 career tackles to move into eighth place on the TU charts. He surpassed Nick Bunting (2003-06) who had 327 career tackles, Muadianvita Kazadi (1993-96) who had 328 career tackles, and Ashon Farley (1997-00) who had 331 career tackles.

• Cody Green completed 14-of-17 passes for 226 yards against UTEP. He now has 3,858 passing yards to move into 11th place on the TU career passing list. He surpassed Ronnie Morris (1950-52) who had 3,724 passing yards.

• Tulsa gained a season-high 430 total offensive yards against UTEP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




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