It took Josh Atkinson just four drives to help Tulsa accomplish an FBS first, it took Keevan Lucas less than three quarters to etch his name in the school record book and it took the Golden Hurricane offense barely a quarter to post all the points it would need to win in the Miami Beach Bowl on Monday.
Tulsa's 55-10 victory over Central Michigan was pure domination from start to finish as the program netted its 10th 10-win season, and its first since 2012. Naturally, the Golden Hurricane capped a remarkable turnaround season under second-year coach Philip Montgomery by overwhelming the opposing defense.
Atkinson finished with 12 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, making Tulsa the first team in FBS history to have a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Atkinson, whose eighth catch of the afternoon gave him 80 yards and his team the never-before-seen feat, finished the season with 1,058 yards, joining Lucas, a fellow senior, in the 1,000-yard club this fall.
Lucas' third touchdown of the game, late in the third quarter, put Tulsa ahead 48-3 and gave Lucas a share of the program's record for TD receptions (32), matching Steve Largent and Howard Twilley.
Lucas finished with seven catches for 72 yards. He fell 93 yards short of matching Twilley's school record for career receiving yards.
The catalyst behind all of this, of course, was the proficient quarterback Dane Evans, who already entered the contest as Tulsa's career passing yards leader but went out with a bang anyway, hitting 28 of 38 passes for 304 yards with five touchdowns and no turnovers.
The Golden Hurricane defense cannot be overlooked here. It kept the Chippewas at bay all afternoon, holding them to three points through three quarters, picking off Cooper Rush three times and returning one of those interceptions for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tulsa had not picked off a pass in its previous four games.
The resounding win earned Montgomery a Gatorade bath, as he notched his first bowl win as a head coach.
Tulsa was just 2-10 in 2014. Then Montgomery arrived and meshed nicely with the upperclassmen; seniors Evans, Atkinson and Lucas all starred this season. Montgomery received a contract extension earlier this month for his efforts, bringing some stability to a program in a conference -- the AAC -- that has been picked apart by Power 5 leagues during silly season, from Texas hiring Houston's Tom Herman, to Oregon scooping up USF's Willie Taggart, to Baylor prying Matt Rhule away from Temple.
Tulsa's 6-7 season in 2015 ended with a shootout loss to Virginia Tech in the Camping World Independence Bowl. With double-digit wins in Year 2 -- combined with all of the league's turnover -- Montgomery has a potential sleeping giant in the league's West division for the near future.