CONWAY, SC – Tulsa cornerback Tyon Davis thinks his team need a little bit of adversity to get started.
That was certainly true at the Myrtle Beach Bowl where the Golden Hurricane suffered the mind-blowing Old Dominion start – a 100-yard return touchdown by LeMareon James on the opening kickoff – en route to a 30-game win. -17 Monday to close the season with four consecutive wins.
“We love adversity,” said Davis. “At this point, I think it’s fueling us.”
It showed the American Athletic Conference Golden Hurricane (7-6) scored on his first two possessions to erase the Old Dominion lead and take control of the second bowl game ever played on the Coastal campus. Carolina.
Davis Brin threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Josh Johnson had eight catches for 129 yards and half-back Shamari Brooks ran for 107 yards and a score. It was Tulsa’s second consecutive bowl victory and the first since beating Central Michigan in the 2016 Miami Beach Bowl.
Brin was named the game’s MVP and his yardage set the bowl mark, despite his history being limited to two games.
As effective as Tulsa’s offense was, his defense was just as good. He held the Conference USA Monarchs (6-7) to 135 yards in the first three quarters.
Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery knew that after the opening kickoff his players wouldn’t let it affect their focus. About 10 minutes later, the Golden Hurricane took the lead in earnest on Brooks’ one-yard run and Brin’s 23-yard pass to Johnson.
“It was a great moment,” Montgomery said of the first two tries. “But that didn’t surprise me.”
The Monarchs struggled to find an attack as Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference took control.
They were passed, 529 yards to 247, and only had 10 first downs against 35 for Tulsa.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Old Dominion signed an offensive touchdown on Blake Watson’s 2-yard run. At that point, Tulsa was leading 30-17 and wasn’t about to give up the lead.
Tulsa took advantage of LJ Wallace’s safety interception – he twisted in front of the receiver to make the play – for a 35-yard field goal by Zack Long just before halftime to lead 17-10.
Johnson had his sixth 100-yard receiving game this season at halftime with five receptions for 101 yards.
There was a brief wave of madness in the last quarter. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty left Tulsa in fourth and 17th place and lined up for a punt. But punter Lachlan Wilson inexplicably took off running straight into a wall of Old Dominion defenders for a one-yard loss.
The Monarchs, down 23-10, jumped on the break with a 22-yard run by Watson and an assist from Hayden Wolff to an Ali Jennings open inside the 10. As Jennings made his way to the end zone, Davis forced the ball to drop for a touchback to end the threat.
Old Dominion failed to rally, losing a bowl game for the first time in two appearances since joining the FBS in 2013.
Long had baskets of 35, 25 and 32 yards, bringing his mark to 22 of 23 kicks this season. Long entered the playoffs second in field goal percentage at Chandler Staton of Appalachian State.