ght's Tulsa Golden Hurricane's Conference USA contest against the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium, it appears on the outside that Tulsa had a fairly easy time — winning 37-20.
But for those who either were in attendance or watched on it the CBS College Sports Network, they know what really happened.
The good news was that the Golden Hurricane (3-3, 2-0 in C-USA) started very well, scoring on the opening drive as an eight-play drive was capped by Clay Sears' 17-yard touchdown pass from G.J. Kinne. After Kevin Fitzpatrick's extra point. Tulsa had a 7-0 lead with 8:58 left in the first quarter.
Later, Fitzpatrick kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 10-0 advantage for the Golden Hurricane at the 1:59 mark.
But in between the Tulsa scores, the Golden Hurrican went for it on fourth-and-1 at the UAB 19 and failed to get it. On the final play of the opening period, Kinne was intercepted by UAB's Marvin Burdette to stop that drive, which came on the heels of the first scoring drive for the Blazers (0-6, 0-3). In the second quarter, Tulsa fumbled the ball with UAB's Tyler Peppers making the recovery. Both those turnovers were turned into points which enabled the Blazers (one of three winless teams in the BCS, formerly Division I-A, along with New Mexico and Howard Schnellenberger's Florida Atlantic team) to take a 17-10 lead with 6:20 left before halftime on Ty Long's 20-yard field goal.
But Tulsa did end up with the halftime lead at 24-20, then had a strong second half by outscoring UAB 13-0 to get the 17-point win.
For Tulsa Coach Bill Blankenship, who formerly coached the Spiro Bulldogs, he was pleased with the victory but not how his team performed from the opening kickoff to the final second.
“Obviously, we're excited with the win,” he said. “We won't ever take those things lightly. Was there some ugliness to it? Absolutely, especially turning the ball over like we did. We gave up some plays over the top (in the passing game, as UAB got a 66-yard and a 45-yard touchdown pass from Bryan Ellis to Jamarcus Nelson for the first two scores for the Blazers), and those are the big things that glare out.”