Sept. 22, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La.-For fans in attendance of Saturday's football game between Tulane and Southeastern Louisiana, the words "Matt Forté carries" piping over the public address system must have sounded like a broken record.
That's because he did break records - three school and one Conference USA mark, to be exact - as the Green Wave defeated the Lions, 35-27, to give new head coach Bob Toledo his first victory with the program in the Louisiana Superdome.
Forté, a senior running back from Slidell, La., rushed for a Tulane and C-USA record 303 yards and five touchdowns as the Green Wave overcame a 20-14 halftime deficit to improve to 1-2 on the year. SLU, meanwhile, fell to 1-3.
"We knew that Matt was going to get a lot of carries," Toledo said. "I didn't think that it was going to be 40 carries, and I didn't think that he was going to score five touchdowns on more than 300 yards, either. I think he did a good job, and our guys came out emotional in the first half, and did so again in the second half. Our plan was to pound the rock, and I think we really broke them down towards the end of the second half."
Down by six at the break, the Green Wave went to their All-American candidate and Forté responded with 177 yards and three scores on 25 carries in the second half alone. Forté averaged 7.6 yards per carry for the night and his 312 all-purpose yards ranks second in Tulane single-game history.
"That was the whole game plan," Forté said. "Out of the first 12 scripted plays, 10 of them were running. I knew going into the game we were going to run it a lot. I had that on my mind and I practiced hard the whole week to prepare for that and I showed up on the field."
Southeastern Louisiana drew first blood as Donald Frazier returned a blocked punt 12 yards for a touchdown midway through the first quarter. But Forté tied the game with a 20-yard run on the ensuing possession to cap a seven-play, 50-yard Green Wave drive.
Forté struck again with a 21-yard jaunt in the second quarter to give Tulane a 14-7 lead, but the Lions roared right back with 22- and 37-yard field goals by Jeff Turner and a 63-yard scoring strike from Brian Babin to Merrick Laneaux to make it a 20-14 ballgame at halftime.
Going into the second half, the Tulane defense stiffened. After allowing 232 yards on 38 plays in the first two quarters, the Green Wave held Southeastern Louisiana to just 109 yards in 39 plays following the break, including just 25 rushing yards on 13 carries.
While the defense caged the Lion offense, Forté carried Tulane the rest of the way with three- and four-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter and an 11-yard dive in the fourth to give the Green Wave a commanding 35-20 advantage. Southeastern Louisiana capitalized on a Tulane turnover late in the fourth quarter when Babin connected with Byron Ross for a 14-yard touchdown, but that would be the Lions' final possession as Forté and the Tulane offense were able to run out the clock from there.
"I'm proud of our football team," Toledo said. "Our goal this week was to be physical and to come out and run the football, and that's just what we did. We ran the football, and we stopped their run."
Senior defensive back Joe Goosby, who lined up at linebacker for most of the ballgame, as the Green Wave took the field primarily in a nickel defense, led Tulane with a career-high with 16 tackles. Senior defensive lineman Antonio Harris, meanwhile, posted career-high marks in tackles (11), tackles for loss (4.0 for 16 yards lost) and sacks (3.0 for 15 yards lost).
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Sept. 29, when they close out a four-game homestand to start the 2007 season against arch-rival LSU. The game is slated to kickoff at 11 a.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2007 season remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased in person, over the telephone at (504) 861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.