Tulsa hoped to thrive on offense and get a win at home on Thursday night in a nationally televised game against Iowa State.
After all, it was a two-touchdown victor over Cyclones in last year’s Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
But a similar result was not to be as its struggled continue as Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson and running back Jeff Woody directed the Cyclones’ assault to inflict a 38-21 defeat on the Golden Hurricane (1-3).
It marked the first win of the season for Iowa State (1-2).
Richardson threw two TD passes for 255 yards on 26-of-41 attempts and had one interception. His top receivers on the night were Tad Ecby (59 yards) and Jarvis West (39 yards), each with six receptions. Woody only rushed for 12 yards on six handoffs but had the Cyclones’ other three TDs. Aaron Wimberly led the ground attack for the Iowa State with 137 yards on 19 carries.
Tulsa committed four turnovers and failed to convert on one fourth-down conversion.
TU quarterback Cody Green would get benched in favor of backup Dane Evans with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
“Well, we struggled, and it's kind of what we talked about,“ Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship. “If we were struggling, we'd try to give Dane a shot, and thought he did some good things. He had some times he struggled. We're struggling a lot more places than just quarterback, but that's part of what we're doing.”
Green would later return, but the Golden Hurricane could not overcome the 17-point deficit. Evans finished with 51 yards on 8-of-18 attempts.
“I didn't see Dane doing a whole lot for two or three series,” Blankenship said. “Guys are just trying to find a way to spark our team right now.”
Iowa State scored first, but TU appeared to be taking over when it scored twice in the second quarter for a 14-7 lead.
Tulsa would tie the score on a 1-yard run from Trey Watts, right after the TD was set from 22-yard pass from Green to Jordan James. That cane with 4:58 left in the first half.
The Golden Hurricane didn’t waste time getting the ball back. Green found Thomas Roberson, who overcame tight coverage from two defenders, in the end zone for a 9-yard TD. TU moved out on top 14-7, but it could not maintain the advantage before halftime. Richardson connected with Jarvis West with 15 seconds remaining before halftime to tie it for Iowa State. That would set the stage for the Cyclones to control the second half.
The Golden Hurricane offense had a chance to answer but would either cough the ball away and turn it over on fourth down, each time inside the Cyclone 30-yard line. The including a fumble on the second play of the first possession of the second half. Iowa State would score 17 straight points.
“Very disappointing,” Blankenship said. “Again, I don't want my evaluation of our players to be that I'm pointing fingers at them. We are not very good right now. We did not play well tonight, and we've got a lot of work to do before we move into conference play. I think if you look, you see spurts, you see positives, but we're just, you know, we can't play like that and expect to win.”
Tulsa would draw within 31-21 when Roberson caught his second TD of the game with 8:16 left.
Woody’s last TD sealed it for the Cyclones with 1:48 remaining.
Green finished the game with two TDs on 237 yards on 18-of-31 attempts and one pick. He also took a sack.
Jordan James led in receiving with eight catches for 86 yards.
Senior linebacker Shawn Jackson led TU with 14 tackles, and made his first interception of the season.
Next for TU is the Conference USA opener Oct. 5 against Rice. The game is schedule for 2:30 p.m. at Chapman Stadium.