The UH/AAC Report

Cougars rally late in win over Tulsa: UCF and USF are halfway to perfection

QB D'Eriq King escapes the pocket vs. Tulsa. Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

Houston 41, Tulsa 26

QB D’ Eriq King and the Cougar offense started the game in frustrating fashion in front of a nationally televised audience on Thursday night. The worst offensive first quarter of the season since Week 1 vs Rice was induced by an introductory TD pass from Tulsa’s QB Seth Boomer, who threw for 227 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. UH tried to respond, but QB King tried to thread a needle so tight that it caused his receiver to bobble the catch attempt, leaving the Tulsa defense an opportunity for a pick six. Luckily for the Coogs, the turnover only lead to a Golden Hurricane field goal. King then threw a beautiful 32-yard TD pass into the end zone to WR Keith Corbin, who made an equally beautiful jump catch. Offensive Coordinator Kendal Briles tried to instill an up tempo offense early, something he has been successful at implementing all season, but their failure at finding a rhythm left UH with predictable play calling in third and long situations, which forced King to make awfully contested throws.

The entirety of the second quarter was also frustrating to watch. Both teams ended up turning the football over in back to back to back possessions. King again attempted to throw into a tight window resulting in a Tulsa interception. The UH defense began to constrict Tulsa at this point, and showed that they are capable of committing turnovers in moments that give the Cougars' offense and opportunity to come back. On 3rd and 10, with 8:44 left on the clock,  King climbed the pocket and rushed for a 19-yard TD, putting the Coogs ahead 17-13 at halftime.

The third quarter was all Tulsa, who shut out the Cougar offense and scored 10 points of their own.

The fourth quarter, however, belonged to Houston. Briles finally found the rhythm he searched for all game and adjusted offensively.  King displayed an intangible characteristic, to never panic. King exploded to the right side of the field on a designed QB run and drove into a hole created by his offensive line and receivers that was so big, it led him to an impressive 61-yard touchdown run. The Houston defense then created another turnover via fumble on the Tulsa 9-yard line, where King answered right away with another TD throw. Golden Hurricane QB Boomer then threw a pick in his own 25-yard line, which was turned into yet another King TD. The offense managed to score 17 points in under 2 minutes, leaving the final score 41-26 Houston. Tulsa’s record drops to 1-4, while Houston improves to 4-1.

The defensive performance set by everyone around Ed Oliver is encouraging. LB Austin Robinson had himself a day, with 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. LB Emeke Egbule recovered 2 fumbles. S Deontay Anderson created two turnovers via strip fumble and interception. UH has yet to play No. 23 USF, and a capable Memphis offense. Both teams are very run heavy, and must find a way to go around Ed Oliver and company. Houston showed the capability of complimentary football and will have to continue the trend next week at ECU, who is in last place in the American West division with a 2-3 record.

UH extends a triumphant record of 24-5 at TDECU Stadium in front of 29,823 fans.

The stars

DT Ed Oliver- 13 tackles (tied season high), 1.5 tackles for loss, one QB pressure.

QB D’Eriq King- 19/27, 165 passing yards, 2 INTs, 117 rushing yards, 5 total TDs.

Notable results in the American Athletic Conference

UCF 48, SMU 20

The #13 UCF Golden Knights extend their unrelenting win streak to 18-0 with a win at home vs SMU. The Golden Knights’ high octane offense scored three touchdowns in the first quarter. But a lot of credit is owed to the defense, who created several turnovers throughout the game that gave the offense opportunities to score on short fields. Running backs Adrian Killins and Otis Anderson combined for 26 carries, 187 rushing yards, and 3 TDs. SMU’s Ole Miss transfer, WR James Proche, had 12 receptions, 100 receiving yards, and 2 TDs. SMU is at 2-4, while UCF improves to 5-0 for the season and will face a formidable Memphis Tigers team in Tennessee next week.

USF 58, UMass 42

USF came into this week ranked at No. 23 as they visited UMass. This game began with a 65-yard touchdown thrown by the Bulls’ QB Blake Barnett, who ended up 17 of 24 with 1 TD, 1 INT, and 209 yards. But The real offensive display came from their rushing attack, where Jordan Cronkrite had an outstanding performance with 23 carries, 302 rushing yards, and 3 TDs. UMass had a weapon of their own. Minutemen WR Andy Isabella had 13 receptions, 191 yards, and 1 TD. USF will head into conference play at Tulsa, boasting a perfect 5-0 record.

Memphis 55, UConn 14

The Memphis Tigers won their first conference matchup with a huge offensive display from their RBs. Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. combined for an unstoppable 335 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. QB Brady White had an efficient showing where he went 16 of 18, threw for 239 yards, and 1 TD. Memphis scored 41 points in the first half, propelling them early into a 4-2 record. But an intimidating UCF team that is on a 18-game win streak awaits.

Cincinnati 37, Tulane 21

The Cincinnati Bearcats started this game slow with a 3-point first quarter, but then adjusted and scored 21 points in the second. Tulane tried to inch their way back into the game, but a pivotal third quarter punt block by Cincinnati was later turned into 7 points, diminishing any possibility for a Green Wave comeback. The Bearcats improve to an impressive 6-0 record, their first since 2012, while Tulane falls to 2-4.  

Other AAC Results

Temple 49, ECU 6

Air Force 35, Navy 7

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Houston can win series on Sunday

Timely hitting helps Astros edge out D-backs to even series

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Astros had two losses over the last 24 hours; one a game against the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday night, the other the news that their recovering ace, Justin Verlander, announced Saturday afternoon that he is opting to undergo Tommy John surgery. The decision and surgery will likely sideline Verlander through 2021 when his current contract with Houston ends.

With that, the Astros headwinds continued to increase, meaning a win to even the series with Arizona on Saturday would be a much-needed pick-me-up. Here's how they did:

Final Score: Astros 3, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 26-26, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Enoli Paredes (3-2, 2.84 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Luke Weaver (1-8, 6.51 ERA).

D-backs score two on Javier who is pulled early

Kole Calhoun, who drove in four runs, including a home run in Friday's game, would start the scoring on Saturday with a solo home run off of Cristian Javier in the top of the second, giving Arizona an early 1-0 lead. Javier allowed another run in the top of the third, giving up a leadoff single that would move to third on a groundout then score on a sac fly, doubling the lead to 2-0.

Javier finished the third and tossed a 1-2-3 fourth, but whether it be due to a pre-determined pitch count or other situation, he would not go any further, ending his night there on just 77 pitches. His final line: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 77 P.

Astros grab a lead in the sixth

The Astros were able to cut the lead in half in the bottom of the third, getting a leadoff single by Josh Reddick, who would move to third after a walk and fielder's choice before scoring on an RBI-groundout by Jose Altuve, making it 2-1. Enoli Paredes was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the top of the fifth and retiring six straight batters for two perfect frames.

Houston would get to Luke Weaver in the bottom of the sixth, getting a leadoff single by George Springer, who would score from first on an RBI-double by Altuve to tie the game. Altuve would come around as the go-ahead run later in the inning on an RBI-single by Kyle Tucker, knocking Weaver out of the game as the Astros took their first lead of the game, 3-2.

Houston evens the series and moves back up to .500

Josh James was the next reliever for Houston in the top of the seventh, and despite getting into a jam by issuing a one-out walk and hitting the next batter, he was able to get out of it. It was thanks to a great play by Michael Brantley, who started a double play by catching a lineout and throwing a runner out at second to end the inning.

Brooks Raley had the eighth and erased a one-out walk by retiring the next two batters to maintain the one-run lead. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Astros turned to closer Ryan Pressly to get another save and finish the one-run game. Pressly would do so, as Houston would move back up to .500 and even the series 1-1 heading into the rubber game on Sunday.

Up Next: The finale of this series between Houston and Arizona, and Houston's last regular-season home game of 2020, will get underway at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Madison Bumgarner (0-4, 8.53) ERA will be on the mound for the D-backs, while Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will start for the Astros.

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