By BRETT MARTEL
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Kevin Kolb threw for 283 yards and three touchdowns and the Houston defense held on in the final seconds as the Cougars defeated Tulane 45-42 on Saturday.
Tulane's explosive offense caught fire in the second half, scoring 35 points, and had the ball for a potential game-winning drive with 58 seconds left, but with no time-outs.
J.P. Losman hit Tristan Smith to convert a fourth-and-five to keep the drive alive, then hit Nick Narcisse to put Tulane in Houston territory. But Narcisse could not get out of bounds to stop the clock. With about 14 seconds left, Losman dropped back and was sacked by Joe Clay and time ran out before Tulane could line up for another play.
Anthony Evans ran for 103 yards and two scores for Houston (5-1, 2-0 Conference USA), which finished with 539 total yards and held possession for 42:47. Jackie Battle added a 1-yard touchdown run, and early in the fourth quarter, Dustin Bell kicked 27-yard field goal which proved to be the difference in the game.
Chad McCullar caught five passes for 73 yards, including a long catch on a third-down conversion, during which he held on to the ball despite being sandwiched so hard by tacklers that he had to be helped off the field.
The loss for Tulane (3-3, 1-2) squandered a gutsy performance by J.P. Losman, who passed for 264 yards and three touchdowns while running for two more scores. Mewelde Moore ran for 115 yards and a touchdown for the Green Wave.
Houston, now off to its best start since 1990, appeared ready to blow Tulane
out early on, scoring on its first four possessions in taking a 28-7 halftime
lead. Kolb was 19-of-28 for 218 yards to that point. That included touchdown
passes of 14 yards to Vincent Marshall and 12 yards to Jonathan Pritchett, the
latter coming on a third-and-goal.
It nearly backfired as Losman continued to engineer quick scoring drives, each of which took less than 2:30. Tulane's last scoring drive went 84 yards in eight plays and consumed only 1:41. Losman finished it with a 5-yard run.