Junior linebacker Trent Mackey returned an interception 39 yards for a touchdown and tallied a team-leading nine tackles in Tulane's 49-10 Conference USA win at UAB.
Sept. 17, 2011
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Junior quarterback Ryan Griffin tied a career high with three touchdown passes and both junior middle linebacker Trent Mackey and sophomore defensive back Derrick Strozier had interception returns for scores as the Tulane University football team rolled past Conference USA foe UAB, 49-10, Saturday afternoon at Legion Field.
With the win, Tulane improves to 2-1 overall and evens its C-USA record at 1-1. The 39-point victory was the largest conference win by the Green Wave since the league's inception prior to the 1996 season, surpassing the former mark of 34 established on Nov. 22, 1997, in a 44-10 decision at Houston. The win was also Tulane's most lopsided victory overall since downing Louisiana-Monroe 52-9 (43 points) on Oct. 5, 2003, at ULM's Malone Stadium. UAB, meanwhile, falls to 0-2 on the year and 0-1 in league play.
"Today was a total team performance and I thought our defense did a great job of getting three turnovers and two of them resulted in touchdowns," Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo said. "The offense ran the ball well, we protected the quarterback and Ryan threw the ball extremely well and made some big plays. Overall, I'm very pleased with our performance today with the exception of our kickoff unit. We need to continue to work on that area."
Tulane piled up 540 yards of total offense (262 rushing, 278 passing) and the defense held the Blazers to just 193 (48 rushing, 145 passing). Saturday's game marked the first time the Green Wave held an opponent to less than 200 yards of total offense since limiting ULM to 182 on Sept. 20, 2008. UAB's 48 rushing yards was the fewest allowed by Tulane since giving up 23 at Rice on Nov. 17, 2007.
In addition, Tulane ran 76 plays and held the ball for 41:57 compared to the Blazers' 45 offensive snaps and 18:03 time of possession. The Green Wave were six-of-12 converting on third down, three-of-four on fourth down, and were forced to punt just twice all day
Griffin completed 22-of-26 passes for 281 yards, including scoring strikes to senior wide receiver Joe Kemp, sophomore wideout Wilson Van Hooser and redshirt-freshman tight end Matt Marfisi. Kemp led Tulane with six receptions and rookie receiver Justyn Shackleford paced the Wave with 60 yards on a pair of catches.
Three Tulane running backs posted 60-plus yard rushing efforts as sophomore Orleans Darkwa and senior Albert Williams shared team-high honors with 64 yards on 20 and 11 carries, respectively, while freshman Danté Butler had 60 on just four totes. Darkwa added a pair of touchdown runs to his performance and caught a pair of passes for another 23 yards through the air.
"It was a great win for us," Griffin said. "We put it together in all three areas: offense, defense and special teams, with the exception of UAB's lone touchdown early on. I think a lot of the credit goes to the offensive line. They did a great job and set the tone for the offense.
"By them opening the holes in the running game, it made it so much easier to throw the ball. I was able to take what the defense gave me and I think we only threw long down the field three times. Our receivers were able to catch the ball and make the defenders miss tackles. This was a great team effort."
Mackey and Strozier, meanwhile, became the first Tulane tandem to return interceptions for scores in the same game since Bruce Youmans and Tra Boger accomplished the feat against Marshall on Oct. 29, 2005. Mackey led the Green Wave defense with nine tackles (4 solo, 5 assists) while senior defensive end Dezman Moses and junior cornerback Ryan Travis were next with five stops each. Junior corner Alex Lauricella had a game-best two pass break-ups.
After taking the opening kickoff, Tulane squandered a scoring opportunity on the game's first drive on a botched field goal attempt, but that was about the only thing that went wrong offensively the rest of the way.
After the defense held UAB to a three-and-out, Darkwa capped an eight-play, 65-yard march with his first touchdown run from four yards out. The lead, however, was short lived as Nick Adams returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to tie the ballgame.
Tulane answered with a 10-play, 66-yard drive that saw Darkwa hit paydirt on a two-yard run and the Green Wave never trailed again. Two UAB drives later, Mackey picked off an attempted shovel pass by Blazers' quarterback Bryan Ellis and returned it 39 yards to put the Wave on top 21-7. Van Hooser capped the first-half scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Griffin and Tulane went into the locker room at the break comfortably on top, 28-7.
UAB got something going early in the third quarter as the Blazers marched 48 yards on nine plays and cut the deficit to 18 courtesy of a 32-yard Ty Long field goal. Undaunted, the Green Wave came back with a 10-play, 68-yard drive which culminated with a 19-yard Griffin-to-Kemp touchdown pass. The next time Tulane got the ball, the Wave went 94 yards on 18 plays as Marfisi scored his first collegiate touchdown on a one-yard grab. Strozier accounted for the final score with a 55-yard pick six from UAB reserve signal caller Joe Bento.
"It's great bouncing back after last week," Mackey said. "Last week was a tough loss and we lost to a really good team, so this is a great way to respond. We have to keep playing like this every week. We need to limit our mistakes and dominate our opponent."
Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 24, when the Green Wave travel to Durham, N.C., to take on Duke. The contest against the Blue Devils is the second of a three-game road swing as Tulane play at Army on Oct. 1. The Green Wave's next home game is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8, when Tulane plays host to Syracuse in the Louisiana Superdome. Kickoff for that game will be 7 p.m. and the game will be carried live on Cox Sports Television.
Season ticket sales are still available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office, with packages starting as low as $90. Single-game sideline tickets are $35, adult endzone seats selling for $20 and youth endzone seats cost $10. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.