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April 20, 2014

Offense shines late for Golden Hurricane

TULSA — James Flanders rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown in Tulsa’s spring game at Chapman Stadium on Saturday.

The Golden Hurricane did not keep score, and the game was played on one side of the field.

Flanders had runs of 43 and 45 yards. Freshman Jabe Burgess was 5-of-8 passing for 64 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Chris Showels and Cole Taylor.

“Overall for the whole spring I was pleased,” coach Bill Blankenship said. “I don’t put a whole lot into the spring game at all. To me, the work is done through 14 practices. This is more of a celebration. I’m happy to get done and I don’t think we had any major injuries. We made a lot of improvements on both sides of the ball.”

Burgess gave Tulsa fans a glimpse of the future, which could come as early as this fall after his performance Saturday. Both of his touchdown drives came against the No. 1 defense.

“I will compete all summer, go as hard as I can,” Burgess said. “The biggest thing is getting the offense down.”

Dane Evans, who ended the 2013 season as the starter, was 4-of-13 passing for 31 yards. Joseph Calcagni was 3 of 6 for 21 yards and Ryan Rubley completed his only attempt for 8 yards.

Blankenship said he was pleased with the quarterbacks throughout the spring but called their play in the spring game “at times a little rusty. There’s no question, Dane is getting pushed.”

The running back position also was in focus in the spring game, with the Golden Hurricane looking to replace departed stars Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas.

Flanders and Tavarreon Dickerson separated themselves in spring drills. Dickerson, a transfer from Kansas, did not play in the spring game due to injury, as was the case with Zack Langer. Jeremy Brady carried six times for 22 yards before an injury forced him out of action.

“Those runs by James were what we saw throughout spring practices,” Blankenship said. “He is consistently getting better.”

Tulsa officially joins the American Athletic Conference on July 1 and plays its first league game in the season opener against Tulane on Aug. 28. The Golden Hurricane’s road game at Temple on Oct. 11 begins a string of seven consecutive conference games.

“There’s something to an enthusiasm factor this spring with the new league,” Blankenship said. “It wasn’t lost on our guys.”

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