The game was a roller coaster of missed tackles, key stops and one broken leg. That broken leg brought Tulsa a 30-27 victory over CSU on Saturday.
“We did a lot of things to keep us in the game, it’s a tough one,” Coach Jim McElwain said. “I thought our guys responded after last week’s loss pretty good, and I thought they played their tails off. I I like this team, I like who they are and what they are all about. Bottom line is that you’ve got to win.”
After posting a score on the board before the Golden Hurricane, the Rams played like it was their game to lose.
Quarterback Garrett Grayson drove his offense down the field, connecting with Joe McKay for a two-yard touchdown less than five minutes into the first quarter.
Then, they volleyed; Tulsa quarterback Cody Green tossed a 17-yard pass to Je’Terian Douglas for six, tying it up.
Green to Jordan James put Tulsa ahead 14-7, but from there, the half belonged to CSU.
The Rams then drove down the field on the legs of Kapri Bibbs, setting up a 25 yard field goal by Jared Roberts, making it a 14-10 game.
The CSU defense made a quick three-and-out of Green’s offense, and on Grayson’s next possession, he completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jordon Vaden, who had previously struggled with reeling in the ball, and it was his touchdown catch that put the Rams ahead.
Still hungry, the Rams posted another 45-yard field goal, courtesy of Roberts’ leg before the half was up.
The Golden Hurricane’s hopes of answering back were thwarted by a Trent Mathews interception to close out the half.
The Rams dominated Tulsa on the ground in the first half, 142 yards to 59, but struggled with passing, posting only 33 to Tulsa’s 119. Still, both quarterbacks closed the half with two touchdowns.
The second half was a bitter battle; a swinging pendulum between two teams, hungry to put their first win on the schedule.
Chris Nwoke made two hard runs to start the half, one of them a third down conversion. A serious issue for CSU in the loss to Colorado last week.
A fumble at the 20 yard line from Kivon Cartwright put Tulsa in position to kick a field goal.
In response, the Rams made another promising drive down the field, captioned by a long pass from Grayson to Thomas Coffman, but they were unable to capitalize, and the game stayed a competitive 20-17.
A key third-down stop from Austin Berk set up a huge run from Vaden, who went down on the one. Nwoke punched it in for the score, and the Rams lengthened their lead to 10.
An unsportsmanlike conduct call on Shaq Barrett during the scoring play added 15 extra yards to Roberts’ kick, giving Tulsa great field position to start the fourth.
A key knockdown by Max Morgan forced Tulsa to settle for a 23 yard field goal, keeping the Rams a touchdown ahead.
But a next-possession connection from Green to sophomore Derek Patterson tied the game with seven minutes to go.
In a heated scramble on Tulsa’s last possession, junior Keyarris Garrett went down with what looked like a broken leg. On the next play, Watts made a big run for Tulsa, setting up Carl Salazar’s game-winning field goal.
“It is always tough to see someone go down like that. Keyarris is one of my brothers,” Watts said. “I didn’t want to go into overtime, so I needed to help this team and make a play.”
Football Beat Reporter Cali Rastrelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.