Thursday, January 08, 2015

A miracle comeback: Houston 35, Pitt 34

The Cougars were unmotivated and played like absolute crap for three quarters, and were trailing by 25 points after Pittsburgh running back James Conner scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. It was, by all appearances, just another lackluster bowl loss for the University of Houston, and the handful of UH fans who actually had made the trip up to Fort Worth to brave the cold weather and see the Coogs play began tricking out of Amon Carter stadium.

Kenneth Farrow muscled his way into the endzone with 10:43 remaining to make the score look a bit more respectable for the Coogs. But the Panthers answered with a field goal, and Houston trailed 13-34 with 6:14 left in the game. In order for the Cougars to even tie the game, they’d need to score three touchdowns in a row and that would require a miracle.

And then, the miracle occurred:

Consider all the improbable things that had to happen in order for this amazing comeback to occur:
  • The Cougars recovered two consecutive onside kicks. In all my years of watching football I have never seen that. Ever.

  • Greg Ward threw a perfect pass to Demarcus Ayers in the corner of the endzone on 4th and 13.

  • On the two-point conversion attempt after Deontay Greenberry's touchdown to bring the Coogs within a point, Ward scrambled on what appeared like a busted play to find him in the endzone, and Greenberry held on to the ball even as a Pitt defender smashed him to the ground.

  • In the game's final seconds, Pitt's star WR Boyd got open and dropped a perfect pass that would have put Pitt in FG range.
ESPN said that Houston had a 0.7% chance of winning that game after Pitt's last score. So you can argue that this outcome was a fluke, an anomaly, a statistical outlier.

And you might be right. But I don't care. Because the University of Houston now holds the title of "biggest fourth-quarter comeback in bowl history." This bowl victory - only the program's third since 1980  - also takes some of the sting off a disappointing season that started with an ignominious loss to Texas-San Antonio in the inaugural game at TDECU Stadium and ended with the head coach getting fired. If nothing else, last Friday's miraculous win is something the UH faithful will always happily remember.

So now, it's on to the offseason. Tom Herman continues to put a coaching staff together even as he prepares Ohio State's offense for Monday's national championship game, and we're sure to see a lot of changes in the program between now and the beginning of September. I eagerly await the next era of Houston Cougar football.

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