LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the final seconds ticked off the biggest win in Tom Herman's coaching career, Houston players ran to a corner of Louisville's home field to savor their upset with joyous fans.
Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. had more reason than others to celebrate after using his arm and feet to get the job done several times in the clutch.
Ward threw two of his three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including to Demarcus Ayers for the 15-yard winner with 3:09 left, to rally Houston past Louisville 34-31 on Saturday.
"We just leaned on each other, just believed in each other," Ward said. "We've been grinding it out, every week, every day. This is a great win for us."
Ward earlier hit Linell Bonner for a 22-yard score during a wild fourth quarter that began tied at 17 before the teams erupted for 31 combined points. The Cougars ultimately got the last word in the back-and-forth contest, completing their third and final comeback in the quarter behind their mobile junior.
Houston's special teams also deserved credit, partly blocking John Wallace's 53-yard field goal which would have tied it with 54 seconds left. Kyle Bullard's 21-yard field goal early in the fourth started the rally, and Brandon Wilson returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown that tied it after Wallace's 36-yard field goal.
Figure in a defense that posted four takeaways, including two interceptions, and it added up to a signature win for Herman. That shouldn't be surprising considering that his fearless play-calling as an assistant helped Ohio State win last year's national championship with three quarterbacks.
"We've been training nine months for this moment," Herman said, "so none of us are surprised with this."
Ward accounted for 334 yards, completing 23 of 33 passes for 236 yards and rushing 21 times for 98 yards.
Kyle Bolin relieved freshman Lamar Jackson in the fourth and twice rallied Louisville with touchdown drives including his 29-yard scoring pass to Micky Crum with 6:25 remaining. But he couldn't complete a fifth rally as the Cardinals fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1998.
Bolin was 10-of-18 passing for 157 yards and led a touchdown drive ending with Jeremy Smith's 4-yard run for a 24-20 lead early in the fourth.
No. 15 Ga. Tech 65, Tulane 10: Justin Thomas passed for two touchdowns and ran for one as the host Yellow Jackets romped. Thomas got a chance to shine after playing only the first quarter in the previous week's 69-6 win over Alcorn State. He threw a 17-yard score to Qua Searcy late in the first half then hit Micheal Summers on a 30-yarder midway through the third quarter. Georgia Tech has put up its most points in consecutive games since 1918, when the John Heisman-coached Yellow Jackets scored more than 100 points three times. The Green Wave struggled on special teams, getting a punt blocked to set up a short touchdown drive for Georgia Tech then having a snap sail over the punter's head for a safety.
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Memphis 55, Kansas 23: Paxton Lynch threw for 354 yards and two touchdowns, and visiting Memphis scored on its first five possessions of the second half in winning its ninth straight dating to last season. The Tigers also snapped a 19-game losing streak against teams from power conferences. The Jayhawks allowed their most points since giving up 66 to Georgia Tech on Sept. 17, 2011.
UConn 22, Army 17: It took UConn two games this season to match its win total from all of last year. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs threw for 270 yards and the host Huskies got touchdown runs from Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson for their first 2-0 start since 2008.