TULSA – Dreams do come true.
Sam Adkins’ did, right here at Skelly Stadium Saturday afternoon. On television, even.
The Wichita State senior quarterback, who had high hopes of closing out his collegiate career on a sensational note, did just that.
He passed for 237 yards and a touchdown and ran for another TD as the Shockers stunned Valley Conference leader Tulsa 30-13, in front of more than 12,000 open-mouthed spectators and a regional television audience.
The victory ended a 22-game road losing streak for WSU and gave Coach Jim Wright his best record in three years at the Shocker helm, 4-7. The loss was only the third in 10 games for Tulsa, which saw its hopes for a bowl bid go down the drain.
Equally impressive as Adkins and his offensive playmates was the Shocker defense, which all but throttled the league’s No. 1 offense.
Forrest Wise (blocked punt), John Blazek (interception for touchdown) and others held the Hurricane to five first downs and 81 yards total offense in the second half after TU had taken a 10-7 lead to the dressing room at halftime.
“We just decided to go out and put it together,” defensive end Ron Langston, one of 14 seniors playing their final game, said of the halftime conversation in the Shocker dressing room. “We knew we could beat them. We’ve just made too many mistakes this year. But everything came together at once today.”
The Shockers, heavy underdogs going into the contest, gave indications from the very outset they meant business. They held Tulsa to two first downs on its first four possessions of the game before the Hurricane managed to open up a 10-0 lead.
Adkins, under heavy pressure from the TU pass rush in the early going, got the Shockers back in teh game by connecting with sophomore Bryan Hanning for an 84-yard touchdown pass play midway through the second stanza.
“I was huffing and puffing,” Hanning said with a laugh of the Shockers’ longest play of the season. “I felt so slow. I thought I heard someone after me, but I guess it was Larry (Martin, WSU’s feet flanker who escorted Hanning the final 50 yards).”
While the WSU defense was doing its duty in the final two quarters, which dragged on and on with incomplete passes and television timeouts, Adkins was hitting his stable of receivers for 18 completions to a half-dozen different teammates.
It was the blocked punt by Wise that set up WSU’s go-ahead touchdown, 17-10, and Blazek’s 34-yard interception return iced it at 27-13. Kicker Kent Van Vleet, who ahs had his troubles this year coming off a knee operation, got his act together Saturday also, hitting on field goals of 24, 37 and 48 yards, as well as three extra point kicks for 12 points.
“I remembered four years ago when I was a freshman,” said Adkins, who was selected as offensive player of the game. “We were 3-7 and Tulsa was 7-2 and undefeated in the league, just like today. We beat them in a very emotional game for the seniors, and I wanted to go out the same way.
Blazek, the senior linebacker from Des Moines, was credited with nine tackles, including 11 yards in losses. He received the defensive player of the game honor. $1,000 scholarships will be presented to the Wichita State fund in Blazek and Adkins’ names.