By: Sam Weiderhaft
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-6) passed for 285 yards and rushed for 244 more in a 30-17 win over the Old Dominion Monarchs (6-7) in the second edition of the Myrtle Beach Bowl on Monday evening. Tulsa’s offense held the ball for just under 40 minutes in the program’s 11th bowl game victory.
Tulsa finished off their season with four consecutive wins, while Old Dominion dropped their first game since October 16th and saw their five-game winning streak snapped. The postseason matchup was the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Golden Hurricane quarterback Davis Brin completed 22 of 34 passes for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. The redshirt junior was named Myrtle Beach Bowl MVP following the game after setting a Myrtle Beach Bowl game record for passing yards.
“It took every single one of us tonight,” Brin said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Brin connected with senior receiver Josh Johnson for eight receptions and 129 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown catch in the opening quarter. Redshirt senior receiver JuanCarlos Santana added six catches for 75 yards, while redshirt sophomore tight end Ethan Hall caught a four-yard touchdown pass for his lone reception of the night. Senior running back Shamari Brooks rushed for 109 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown to help the attack.
After surrendering a 100-yard kickoff return to begin the game, the Golden Hurricane defense gave up just 10 more points the rest of the game and held Old Dominion to only 71 rushing yards in the contest. Graduate student linebacker Yohance Burnett led the team in tackles with six total, with senior defensive lineman Jaxon Player added the team’s only sack with his five total tackles.
Graduate student kicker Zack Long knocked in field goals of 25, 32, and 35 yards to set a new season high.
“I’m proud of our team,” said Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery. “The things they battled throughout the year; they faced a lot of adversity. With that being said, they finished really strong, and it was just typical of who we are today.”
Montgomery collected his second bowl win in his seventh season with the Golden Hurricane.
Old Dominion tallied 247 yards of total offense and converted five of their 11 third downs in their second-ever bowl appearance. Monarchs’ redshirt freshman quarterback Hayden Wolff threw for 176 yards on 19 completions and one interception in the defeat. Sophomore wide receiver Ali Jennings lll was Wolff’s favorite target with six receptions for 74 yards. Redshirt sophomore running back Blake Watson led the rushing attack with 77 yards on 14 carries and a two-yard touchdown.
Freshman linebacker Jason Henderson led the Monarch defense with nine solo tackles and season-high and 13 total, with redshirt junior safety R’Tarriun Johnson also collecting 13 stops setting a Myrtle Beach Bowl record for tackles. Senior linebacker Jordan Young posted his second sack of the year and was a force in the Golden Hurricane backfield with three tackles for loss.
“They may never play on a team that’s this tight,” first-year Monarch Head Coach Ricky Rahne told his group after the loss. “I told them all, ‘you better dap up everybody in this room because if you miss one, you never know when you’ll be able to see him again.’”
Bowl season in Myrtle Beach started off with some fireworks as Old Dominion kick returner LaMareon James returned the opening kickoff 100 yards to the house to bring the visiting fans at Brooks Stadium to their feet. The run back was the first-ever opening play for a touchdown in Monarchs program history.
Tulsa responded with a 1:42 drive that carried them 74 yards down the field. Brin connected with Santana for a 38 reception on a 1st and 10 play to put the Golden Hurricane just outside the Monarch red zone. Brin found Santana on the following play for an 11-yard gain down to the Monarch 12-yard-line. Three plays later, Brooks rushed it in from one yard out to even the score 7-7.
Following a missed field goal on the first offensive drive from ODU, Tulsa drove 76 more yards down the field to take their first lead of the game. Down at the Monarch 23-yard-line on 3rd and 6, Davis completed a 23-yard pass to Johnson to cap off the drive and put the Golden Hurricane in front 14-7.
Four-consecutive field goals, three by Tulsa, followed from both teams as the offenses stalled in the second and third quarters. Old Dominion took the ball down to the Golden Hurricane 14-yard-line and senior kicker Nick Rice knocked a 32-yard field goal through the uprights to cut the Tulsa lead down to 14-10.
With both teams turning the ball over on downs in their next two possessions, Tulsa started their next drive at their own 31 with three and a half minutes left in the first half. Brin brought Tulsa into Old Dominion territory with a 16-yard pass to Johnson for a first down to the 42-yard-line. After three consecutive rushes, Johnson caught another pass for nine more yards to the 25-yard-line with just over 30 seconds left. After the Golden Hurricane failed to convert on a 3rd and 2, Long hit his first field goal from 35-yards out to put Tulsa up 17-10 going into halftime.
After receiving the second half kickoff, Tulsa went on to hold on to the football for 12:39 of the 3rd quarter as Long hit two more field goals to extend his single-season program record to 22. The Golden Hurricane led 23-10 heading to the fourth.
The Monarchs tried to swing the momentum as the fourth quarter opened with a 22-yard rush from Watson to get down to the Tulsa 30-yard-line. Wolff fired a dart to Jennings for a 30-yard completion, but just before Jennings reached the goal line, senior cornerback Tyon Davis forced a fumble that rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.
Tulsa cashed in on the mistake with an 11-play, 80-yard trip down the field that concluded with a four-yard pass to Hall to extend the lead to 30-10.
ODU responded quickly as Wolff hit passes for 15, eight, and 34 yards to bring the Monarchs three yards away from the end zone. Watson rushed twice to earn those yards and scored the first Old Dominion touchdown since the opening kickoff.
The Golden Hurricane held the ball for the final 7:11 to run the clock out and collect the 30-17 victory.