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TU football: Days after daughter's birth, TK Wilkerson vaults Hurricane to victory
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TU ANALYSIS

TU football: Days after daughter's birth, TK Wilkerson vaults Hurricane to victory

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Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs East Carolina Pirates

Tulsa running back TK Wilkerson (21) leaps into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown against ECU on Friday.

After a fumble nearly cost the University of Tulsa the game – and perhaps should have, according to the American Athletic Conference – coach Philip Montgomery didn’t hesitate putting the ball back in the hands of running back TK Wilkerson.

Wilkerson, a third-year sophomore from Skiatook, followed a series of fortunate calls in Friday night’s final two minutes with an 18-yard run and then a 1-yarder for the winning touchdown, vaulting the Hurricane to a 34-30 victory against East Carolina.

“That’s just having confidence in our offensive line to do their job and for him to carry it and knowing that your time’s ticking down but trying to get ourselves in the best situations,” Montgomery said. “It ended up turning out all right for us.”

With the game on the line, Wilkerson was attempting to pick up additional yardage when he lost the ball near midfield. A review determined he regained possession, although the conference acknowledged Saturday that was an officiating error.

The drive continued after the call of a catch by Josh Johnson was confirmed, and Wilkerson went to work in the red zone. On his touchdown, the Hurricane inserted defensive linemen Jaxon Player and Tyarise Stevenson as extra blockers, the same play as Wilkerson’s touchdown in last month’s UCF game.

“I’m fairly confident that they will give a bit of push,” quarterback Zach Smith said. “It’s a pretty good play. I like it.”

Wilkerson, who declined an interview request through a team spokesman, missed the previous game against USF for the impending birth of his daughter. Several days after becoming a father, he delivered a big-time performance with 89 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

“He’s going to be a great dad,” Smith said. “I think he played his tail off, and I think it’s just one of those things that was kind of meant to be for him. It was a great week and kind of destined for him.”

Coming into the season, seniors Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II were expected to be the team’s primary ball-carriers. Brooks was lost for the season with a knee injury that occurred the week of the opener, and Taylor was described by Montgomery as “banged up” and didn’t play Friday night.

That gave Wilkerson more of an opportunity in addition to Texas A&M transfer Deneric Prince, who rushed for 47 yards on 10 attempts. As a team, TU averaged 4.7 yards per carry.

“We have always been a running back by committee and it’s just (like that) this year more than any other (with) those guys being able to come in and play at the level that they are playing at,” Montgomery said. “They are all running physical. They are all running downhill.

“They can get outside and run. They have done a good job in the pass (protection) part of it, and so to have that faith in that, it’s a luxury that we’re happy to have.”


View from the sidelines: TU tops East Carolina

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Sports Writer

I have covered college football and college basketball for the Tulsa World since 2012. I spend my spare time as an animal rescue volunteer, focusing on spaying and neutering community cats in the Tulsa area. Phone: 918-581-8452

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