David Johnson passed for 469 yards and six touchdowns to lead the University of Tulsa to a 56-14 destruction of New Mexico in the first game at the newly renovated H.A. Chapman Stadium. The Golden Hurricane led 35-0 at halftime and racked up 606 yards of offense against the Lobos highly-touted defense. Two TU receivers went over 100 yards.
"We have a really good system and it worked tonight," said Tulsa head coach Todd Graham. "When we were stopped, it was because we stopped ourselves. I'm really proud of David Johnson because he has gotten better every single week. This was a good football team today. New Mexico dominated Arizona last week and just about had Texas A&M beat. They won nine games last year and went to a bowl game, and we came out and dominated them.
"I'm really proud of our guys and there is really only one way to open up a new stadium and that is how you do it - in dominating fashion. I said that this game would tell us where we are at, and we have a good football team."
In the first half, Tulsa converted all seven of its third-down plays, scoring on every drive but one, which ended on an interception in the end zone. The Hurricane out-gained their opponent with 360 yards to 153 in the opening half.
TU drew first blood after blocking a New Mexico punt. A 22-yard, 33-second drive culminated with a David Johnson touchdown pass to Damaris Johnson that opened an avalanche of Hurricane scores.
Tulsa's second drive involved a long official's timeout due to reviewing a call. David Johnson was hit while attempting a pass, and the ball was picked up by New Mexico and returned 85 yards for what would have been a game-tying score. However, the call was overturned and ruled an incomplete pass.
That allowed Johnson to hit Slick Shelley on an out route for a 13-yard touchdown, giving TU a 14-0 lead. The Hurricane hit pay-dirt again near the end of the first quarter when Johnson hooked up once again with Damaris Johnson for a 28-yard score. During that drive, the two also connected on a 42-yard pass play.
Tulsa scored twice in the second quarter. A.J. Whitmore ran in from seven yards out with 3:21 left in the half, and just a minute and a half later, David Johnson threw a 64-yard bomb to Slick Shelley for a score on a trick play that had Johnson lined up at wide receiver.
Once Tulsa was ahead by two scores, the game never seemed in doubt. The second half was played at a slower pace, with both teams relying more on the ground game.
With 6:35 on the clock in the third quarter, David Johnson scrambled to his right and found fullback Charles Clay in the back right corner of the end zone. Clay made a leaping reception and got one foot inbounds for the score and a 42-0 Hurricane lead.
The David Johnson to Damaris Johnson connection made noise one last time, as David hit Damaris for a TD from the nine-yard line early in the fourth quarter. After New Mexico scored on a 37-yard Rodney Ferguson run, Tulsa pushed the score to 56-7 when cornerback Roy Roberts snagged a Brad Gruner pass at the 41-yard line and took it to the house.
The Lobos added a touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Gruner to Bryant Williams in the waning moments.
Johnson wasn't as efficient as in his first two games this year, but still completed 24-of-39 passes for his 469 yards. It was the second time he passed for six touchdowns this season, but he also threw his first two interceptions of the year.
Slick Shelley caught six of Johnson's tosses for 129 yards and two scores. Fullback Charles Clay also caught six passes, amassing 98 yards and one touchdown, and wideout Damaris Johnson finished with five catches for 109 yards and three TDs.
Coming into the contest, much of the talk involved how the stingy New Mexico defense could possibly slow down the Tulsa attack. But it was the Golden Hurricane defense that shined, picking off four New Mexico passes and returning them for 70 yards and a touchdown.
"It was one of those nightmare games," said New Mexico head coach Rocky Long. "No matter what you try, it doesn't work, and no matter how hard you try, it goes the other way. They happen every once in a while. You hope they don't happen, but they do.
"It doesn't matter what type of defense we played tonight. They were making plays, and we weren't making plays. We played everything we got in our book, and nothing worked."
TU moves to 3-0 on the season and will host Central Arkansas next Saturday at 6:00 pm.
• On Tulsa's first defensive stand at the opening of the newly-renovated Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium, junior Charles Davis blocked Adam Miller's punt (recovered by freshman Charles Opeseyitan). Tulsa scored two plays later on a 23-yard pass from senior David Johnson to freshman Damaris Johnson. On October 4, 1930, Tulsa christened the brand new Skelly Field in similar fashion when Johnny Potts recovered an Arkansas fumble on the opening kickoff. Tulsa's Billy Boehm ran in a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage en route to a 26-6 victory.
• Charles Davis' blocked punt was Tulsa's first blocked punt of the season and the first of Davis' career.
• On the second offensive drive of the game, junior Slick Shelley scored his first career touchdown on a 13-yard pass from David Johnson.
• Damaris Johnson eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark in the first quarter with four receptions including two for touchdowns.
• Charles Davis had his career interception in the second quarter.
• In the second quarter, David Johnson threw his first interception of the season after 74 attempts. It was only his second career interception in 137 attempts.
• Tulsa's 35 first half points marks the fourth time in the last eight games when Tulsa has scored 35 points or more in the first half. Tulsa scored 35 points against Marshall (October 13, 2007), 35 points against Houston (November 10, 2007), 35 points against Bowling Green (January 6, 2008) and 42 points against North Texas (September 6, 2008).
• Tulsa's first half shutout is the first since leading Bowling Green 35-0 in the GMAC Bowl (January 6, 2008).
• David Johnson's 469 yards mark the 17th consecutive game in which a Tulsa quarterback has thrown for at least 300 yards.
• David Johnson's 469 passing yards mark the 11th time a Tulsa quarterback has surpassed 400 yards and ranks fifth on the single game chart.
• David Johnson's 469 yards mark the third time in Tulsa history in which a quarterback has thrown for at least 400 yards in back-to-back games joining Paul Smith (Rice and UCF in 2007) and Billy Guy Anderson (Cincinnati and Southern Illinois in 1965).
• Tulsa's 56 points marks the eighth time scoring at least 40 points in the last nine games.
• Tulsa's 42-point margin of victory is the most in a home opener since 2001 when Tulsa defeated Indiana State 51-0.
• In the third quarter, Tarrion Adams surpassed Ken Lacy for sixth place on Tulsa's career rushing chart. He now has 2,294 career rushing yards.
• Slick Shelley's 129 receiving yards mark the most by a Tulsa receiver this season and most for a Tulsa receiver since Trae Johnson's 158 yards against SMU (October 27, 2007).
• Damaris Johnson's three touchdown receptions marks the first time a freshman has accomplished that feat since Charles Clay did so against BYU (September 15, 2007).
• Roy Roberts' interception for a touchdown was Tulsa's first since Roberts accomplished the feat against BYU last season (September 15, 2007).
• With his eighth PAT of the game, senior placekicker Jarod Tracy tied Michael Gunter and Steve Largent for seventh place on Tulsa's career scoring chart with 192 points.
• Mike Bryan collected a career-high and team-leading 13 tackles. His previous career high was seven tackles against UAB earlier this season (August 30, 2008).
• With the win, Tulsa starts a season 3-0 for the first time since 1978 when the team started 4-0 and finished 9-2.
• With the win, Tulsa collects its third consecutive home opening victory.
• Tulsa 606 yards of total offense marks the sixth time the team has surpassed 600 yards and the 13th time the team has surpassed 500 yards in 17 games under Head Coach Todd Graham. It also marks the fourth consecutive game Tulsa has had at least 500 yards total offense and seventh game in the past eight games with at least 500 yards total offense.
• Slick Shelley (129 yards) and Damaris Johnson (109 yards) are the first two Tulsa receivers to tally over 100 yards receiving in the same game since Trae Johnson (119 yards) and Brennan Marion (110 yards) accomplished the feat against Army last season (November 17, 2007).
• David Johnson has thrown for 15 touchdown passes in the first three games of the season compared to Tulsa single-season record holder Paul Smith's 10 touchdown passes at the same time last season.