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Monday, November 22, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 65

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Cougars take care of business

Houston's 26-14 win over Army improves chances for bowl bid

By Anna Sivadasan
Daily Cougar Staff 

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Not even the United States Military Academy was going to stop the UH football team from getting the job done Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars knew when they left Houston on Friday that they would have to win their regular season finale against the Army Cadets to have a chance at postseason play.


Senior tailback Mike Green gained a career high 162 yards and touchdowns -- one of which was a 42-yard scramble late in the fourth quarter Saturday against Army.

Pete Medrano/The Daily Cougar

And from the opening kickoff, it was apparent that UH would not let the opportunity slip away.

Thanks to a dominating first half, aided by two senior tailbacks and a relentless defense that shut down the Cadets' multiple-spread option offense, UH came out of Michie Stadium with a 26-14 victory, keeping its bowl hopes alive.

"Army is a very hard-nosed, great-effort football team," UH head football coach Kim Helton said. "I think we won the game in pretty solid fashion, though we would have rather not given up that last touchdown. You have to give Army credit for not giving up. It was a great win for our kids, and I'm very proud of them."

The first few minutes of the contest foretold what kind of game it was going to be for the Cougars as the offense, defense and special teams set the tone early in the first quarter.

UH senior running back Ketric Sanford returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to the Cougar 47-yard line. From then on out, it became the "Sanford and Mike Green Show" as both Houston tailbacks began their assault on the Army defense.


Pete Medrano/The Daily Cougar


Junior quarterback Jason McKinley had plenty of pass protection that helped the Cougars get off to a good start Saturday against Army. The 26-14 victory improves Cougar's chances for a bowl game.

The two seniors combined to carry the ball 11 times on the drive, which culminated in a two-yard touchdown run by Sanford.

On the other side of the ball, the UH defense overwhelmed the Cadets' wishbone offense, which came into the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in rushing at 285 yards per game.

Army didn't have a first down until there was only one second remaining in the first, and it didn't put up its first points until the fourth quarter. For the game, the Cadets were held to 237 rushing yards, and much of that yardage came in the fourth quarter with the Cougars holding a 20-0 advantage.

UH put Army in a hole early, jumping out to a 17-0 cushion at halftime and never looking back. Army did score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull within six, but the Cougars came right back on their next possession and iced the game on a 46-yard touchdown run by Green late in the fourth.

With his 107 yards on 28 carries this weekend against the Cadets, Sanford has moved to the top of two more categories in the UH record books.

In addition to being the Cougars' career rushing and carries leader, he now ranks as UH's all-time rushing touchdown leader and all-time, all-purpose yardage leader. He obtained both marks on the Cougars' first possession on Saturday.

Green also came up big in the Cougar backfield, gaining a career-high 162 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. It was the fourth time this season both runners have passed the 100-yard rushing mark in the same game.

"I think Ketric Sanford played the way he does all the time," Helton said. "I think he played as hard as he can. He made some great runs and so did Mike Green. Our backfield was very productive today. Our runners did very well, but so did our offensive line."

But playing well down the stretch and finishing with a 7-4 record doesn't automatically guarantee the Cougars a spot in a bowl game.

In Conference USA, four teams are vying for a bowl opportunity, but the league is tied into only three bowls in the Liberty, Humanitarian and Mobile Bowl.

However, if one of the conference teams goes outside of the league's bowl tie-ins, it gives the other teams in C-USA a greater chance of being in one of the three C-USA bowl games.

"We're 7-4," Helton said. "How many other teams in the country can say that they're 7-4? I know for sure that there are more bowl opportunities than there are 7-4 teams. I think that we're a great bowl choice for anybody.

"(In a bowl game), I think you have the opportunity to see one of the better receivers in the country in Orlando Iglesias. I think you've got a chance to see two fine running backs, and I think you have a shot at seeing a good defensive football team that plays hard," Helton said.

The Cougars played the last three games knowing had they lost any of the three, their season would have definitely ended on Saturday.

"If you can come to Army and pick up your seventh win, coupled with the schedule we've played, we can make a legitimate claim (to be in a bowl game)," Helton said. "We know that we're not guaranteed of a spot, but we've done what we need to on the field, and I think that the commissioner (of C-USA, Mike Slive) has done what he needs to off the field."

Now comes the hard part --the wait to see if the season is extended into December.
 

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