Sept. 22, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - Spirits were high when the Tulane University football team took the field for Saturday's game against Ole Miss in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Donning all white uniforms and sporting the No. 18 on the left side of their helmets in support of injured teammate Devon Walker - who suffered a spine injury in Tulane's last game on Sept. 8 at Tulsa - the Green Wave were not only attempting to pick up their first win of the year but also give their fallen family member a boost emotionally with a solid showing against the Rebels. Ole Miss, however, had other ideas as the Rebels rolled to a 39-0 victory.
Freshman defensive back Darion Monroe had a game-high 12 solo tackles, and the Green Wave defense forced a trio of turnovers via fumble recovery, but it was not enough as the Rebels scored 26 first-quarter points and never looked back. With the loss, Tulane falls to 0-3 on the year. Ole Miss, meanwhile, improved to 3-1.
"It was a tough outing for us," first-year Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "The freshman quarterback played good in spots. Part of his learning curve is just being a freshman. It's not the easiest position. The defense played well. Monroe was outstanding. Besides the high snap on the punt, I felt the special teams were pretty good. I thought the guys did a great job on the return game.
"For the most part, the efforts were pretty good. I think (Ole Miss) is a good football team. They can score a lot of points, and they showed that last week. They have some good players and we just couldn't get it going enough offensively. I say again...we need to get better at running the ball. There's only so much we can do with a young quarterback. He struggled a little bit and he had poor body language a couple of times. He'll get better. It was his first true start and he'll get better."
Making the first start of his collegiate career, rookie quarterback Devin Powell completed 22-of-41 passes for 145 yards. He became the first true freshman to start under center for the Green Wave since Shaun King did so on Oct. 7, 1995, against Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.
Powell's connected with nine different receivers and his favorite target of the day was junior Ryan Grant, who finished with six receptions for 55 yards. Redshirt-freshman wideout Marc Edwards set career highs with three grabs for 21 yards while sophomore Xavier Rush matched those totals. Sophomore running back Rob Kelley paced the Tulane ground game with 33 yards on 14 carries.
Things started off well for the Green Wave as Powell found Grant for a 32-yard strike on the game's first play from scrimmage. Ole Miss forced a punt attempt and the snap got away from freshman Peter Picerelli to set the Rebel offense up at the Tulane 23. Two plays later, Jeff Scott scored on a 13-yard run to provide all the points Ole Miss would need.
The Rebels scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives - capping the second with a Ja-Mes Logan 14-yard run, the third with a 28-yard Randall Mackey score and the fourth with a 23-yard touchdown strike from Bo Wallace to Donte Moncrief - to take a commanding 26-0 advantage.
Tulane had a chance to get on the scoreboard midway through the second quarter as a forced fumble by sophomore defensive tackle Kenny Welcome and subsequent recovery by junior defensive end Wendell Beckwith gave the Green Wave the ball at the Ole Miss 23-yard line. Powell and the offense drove down to the Rebels' two, but a fourth-down pass attempt fell harmlessly to the turf to turn the ball over on downs.
The Green Wave got another turnover - this time on a fumble recovery by senior cornerback Ryan Travis - on the second play of the third quarter, but the Tulane offense went three-and-out. Ole Miss followed Picerelli's punt for a touchback by driving 80 yards on 15 plays capped by a four-yard Scott touchdown to extend the lead to 33-0.
A Powell interception on the ensuing drive gave Ole Miss the ball at the Green Wave 40, and the Rebels capitalized on the short field when Bryson Rose split the uprights from 40 yards out to make it 36-0. Rose accounted for the game's final points with a 47-yard field goal with 5:09 left to play in regulation.
Undaunted, the Green Wave continued to fight and moved from their own 25-yard line to the Ole Miss three over the next six plays. On first-and-goal, however, Rebels' defensive back Chief Brown picked off a Powell offering in the endzone to thwart the drive.
Wallace led the Ole Miss aerial attack with 101 yards and a touchdown on 7-of-16 passing while Barry Brunetti came off the bench to complete 5-of-7 tosses for 45 yards and run for a team-best 67 yards on 13 carries. Vince Sanders and Collins Moore shared team-high reception honors with two grabs each for 27 and 25 yards, respectively.
Safety Trae Elston led the Rebel defense with six tackles (4 solo, 2 assists) and had one of Ole Miss' three sacks on the day. Brown, Dehendret Collins and Denzel Nkemdiche each had an interception and Collins added a pass break-up to his tally.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Sept. 29, when they play host to Louisiana-Monroe in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff for that contest is slated for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast locally on Cox Sports Television.
Season and individual-game ticket sales for the 2012 football season are currently for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson 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.