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Samuel Peterson

When the Green Wave football players strode onto the field toface Houston, most observers were expecting a passing display.Quarterback Case Keenum has racked up more than 3,200 passing yardsand has already broken the NCAA career passing record by throwingfor more than 17,000 yards. On the Tulane side, Ryan Griffin hadpassed for 2,100 yards. Instead, the contest treated fans to abattle dominated by two running backs, and the two squads combinedfor 508 rushing yards as the Cougars went on to win 73-17. 

Leading the charge was Houston’s Charles Sims. The redshirtsophomore finished the night with a game-high 207 rushing yards and252 total yards. Even more impressive, the total was accumulated ononly 10 carries. Touchdown runs of 72 and 52 yards punctuated thiscareer night. Once Sims broke into the second level, he used hisspeed to make tacklers miss all night long.  Other times, Tulaneplayers simply “fell off,” said interim head coach Mark Hutson.

  “Sims had an incredible first half with his runs and screens,”Hutson said. “We didn’t contain him.”

      Some of Sims’ most electric plays came through screenpasses, which allowed him to face tacklers in space – where hethrives. Finishing the night with 45 receiving yards, Sims comparesfavorably with Saints running back Darren Sproles in that hesucceeds in several different facets of the game. The 2009Conference USA Freshman of the Year was a key reason Houston’sno-huddle offense was able to move with such efficiency. 

One of the few bright spots for Tulane was the standout play ofrunning back Orleans Darkwa, who scored both of Tulane’stouchdowns. By running through would-be tacklers, the sophomoregained 123 yards on 21 carries. The 5.9 yards per carry average isindicative of the effort he put into finishing every play. At onepoint, he dragged two defenders the final yard for a touchdown,after setting the play with a 68-yard scamper shortly beforehand.His production is even more impressive when considering that muchof his yardage was after contact. Perhaps the best description ofDarkwa was from Hutson who called him a “pure competitor.”  

“He is a physically tough individual and a tough-mindedindividual,” Hutson said. “He was slowed with a toe injury inpreseason camp. As you’ve seen that heal over the course of theseason, we’ve increased his number of carries. His yards aftercontact has increased.”

For old-fashioned fans of running the rock, the game wassurprisingly enjoyable. They witnessed two vastly divergent, yetvery effective, styles of halfback playing. Sims is a do-it-allscat back who ran circles around tacklers. On the other sideline,Darkwa is a bruiser who bashed his way though defenders. Darkwaseeks to continue the momentum against the Rice Owls as he pursuesa 1,000-yard season.