Keyarris Garrett caught three touchdowns receptions to highlight Tulsa ’s 23-21 victory over Central Florida Saturday in a battle of Conference USA division leaders at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium.
The Golden Hurricane (9-2 overall, 7-0 in Conference USA) clinched the West Division Championship with the win. They will play in the league championship game on Dec. 1, which will most likely be in Tulsa, but is not certain yet. A win next week at SMU in the regular season will clinch home-field advantage for TU. UCF (8-3, 6-1), who remains atop the East Division, will be the opponent if it wins next week again UAB.
What sealed it for Tulsa was a defensive stop of the Knights (8-3, 6-1) as quarterback Blake Bortles threw an incomplete pass on fourth down and 15 from the UCF 15-yard line.
Garrett finished the day with seven receptions for 130 yards and three TDs. His scores with catches of 70, 20 and 13. It was the first time a player had caught 3 TD passes since 2008.
Quarterback Cody Green threw for 252 yards on 21-of-34 attempts. Trey Watts also had a banner day on the ground as he rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries.
Another highlight of the day didn’t happen in the game but beforehand, as senior offensive lineman Brian DeShane proposed to his girlfriend at the end of a ceremony that honored the seniors and their families.
The proposal began with a DeShane having a message for his girlfriend on the video screen on the scoreboard at the south end of the stadium. Then, with her on the field, DeShane got on his knees, presented the ring as he asked her the question. She said yes.
Tulsa scored first on a 41-yard field goal from Daniel Schwarz and made it 10-0 after quarterback Cody Green threw to Keyarris Garrett for the big 70-yard play with over three minutes left in the first quarter.
UCF cracked the scoreboard when Bortles, under pressure and looked as if he was being brought down, lobbed a pass into the end zone to a wide open Breshad Perriman.
A.J. Bouye put the Knights up on top 14-10 as he returned an interception 76 yards for a TD with over three minutes left in the half.
The Golden Hurricane offense came out like a lion in the second half. After the defense held UCF, TU drove and Green connected with Garrett for 20 yards. The PAT was blocked and TU was up 16-14.
Green hit up Garrett for a 13-yard TD reception despite tight coverage from two Knight defenders. Tulsa was up 23-14.
The Knights trimmed Tulsa’s lead to 23-21 when Latavius Murray scored from one yard with 9:01 left in the game.
UCF saw its six-game winning streak come to an end. It had not lost since dropping a 21-16 decision to Missouri on Sept. 29.
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