Central Michigan vs. Tulsa: Score and Reaction for 2016 Miami Beach Bowl

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2016

Tulsa has put itself in the running for the most dominant performance of the 2016-17 bowl season.

The Golden Hurricane showcased their talent on both sides of the ball with a 55-10 win over Central Michigan in the Miami Beach Bowl.

This result wasn't too much of a surprise, especially considering Tulsa came into the game as a double-digit favorite, per OddsShark. Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports broke down the matchup:

Still, it was as complete a performance as possible as the AAC squad moved to 10-3 on the season. The Chippewas fell to 6-7 with five losses in their last six games.

Dane Evans was as good as ever for Tulsa, totaling 320 passing yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. He also set a new school record with 84 career touchdown passes, per the team's Twitter account.

Meanwhile, the strength of the offense all year was the ability to spread the ball around to different players. Josh Atkinson was a star in the passing game with 12 catches for 131 yards, although he was still overshadowed by Keevan Lucas and his three receiving touchdowns.

Like Evans, Lucas also put his name in the record books with his 32nd career touchdown, tying Steve Largent and Howard Twilley for the most in school history.

James Flanders and D'Angelo Brewer took care of business on the ground with 100 rushing yards each.

The Golden Hurricane also reached an unprecedented level of production for the season, per Yahoo's Dr. Saturday:

Cooper Rush simply couldn't keep up for Central Michigan, ending the day with 242 yards on 24-of-49 passing with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Tulsa earned a 581-386 advantage in total yards and 34-19 in first downs in what was a one-sided battle throughout.

As Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press captured, it wasn't exactly a packed house for the game at Marlins Park:

Still, it was good enough for one team to end its season on a very high note.

Tulsa sent a message with its first offensive drive of the game, methodically moving down the field for an opening touchdown from Evans to Atkinson. Hustle Belt described the impressive drive to take a 7-0 lead:

After an interception, the Golden Hurricane added to their lead with a seven-play drive that resulted in a field goal.

Central Michigan used some trickeration to finally get into the red zone and onto the scoreboard, but its field goal was matched as the lead became 13-3.

However, Tulsa was just getting started offensively. The team used two lightning-quick drives to break this game open with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns from Evans, one to Lucas and the other to Chris Minter. 

Even the opposing team's Twitter account was impressed by the performance:

The 27-3 lead held through the end of the first half.

Central Michigan tried to gain some momentum back with a surprise onside kick at the start of the second half, which it recovered. Unfortunately, a turnover on downs gave the ball right back to Tulsa.

Just like most of the first half, the Golden Hurricane remained impossible to stop. Even after earning a third-down stop, Tulsa still embarrassed the CMU defense, as described by Kelly Hines of Tulsa World:

The squad was far from finished, as a pair of Lucas touchdowns helped turn this matchup into a laugher at 48-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

Central Michigan alumnus Antonio Brown wanted to give any help he could:

This just wasn't in the cards, as Rush threw his third interception of the day into the hands of Jesse Brubaker, who returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.

While the Chippewas finally got into the end zone on a Jahray Hayes 13-yard run, it was way too little to keep up in what became a 45-point finish. 

Central Michigan finishes the year 6-7, the first season with a losing record since going 3-9 in 2011. While head coach John Bonamego has led the team to two bowl games in two years, the Chippewas still have a lot of room to grow for 2017.

On the other hand, Tulsa has seen an impressive turnaround under Philip Montgomery, finishing with 10 wins just two years after taking over a 2-10 squad. Even after losing top seniors like Evans, Lucas and Flanders, the program is headed in the right direction. 


Postgame Reaction

It wasn't one or two plays that cost Central Michigan this game, which will likely help the squad get over the loss.

"When you perform that way against a good football team, you get beat," Coach Bonamego said, per Andy Sneddon of the team's official site. "All we can really do is take this, learn from it and build for the future."

As for Tulsa, there was a lot of excitement in the locker room after the game, via Hines:

The squad deserves the celebration after ending an impressive season with a dominant showing from start to finish.


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