Matt Forte tries to slip past SMU defenders during the first quarter.
Sept. 24, 2005
DALLAS (AP) - The Tulane football team's sanctuary in the days after Hurricane Katrina became the site of its first victory Saturday.
Lester Ricard completed 22 of 34 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns as the Green Wave returned to the SMU campus and beat the Mustangs 31-10.
Tulane made a temporary home in Dallas after Katrina flooded New Orleans and closed the school indefinitely. The Green Wave watched SMU's season-opening loss to Baylor in the same stadium. The team's home base is now at Louisiana Tech.
Running back Matt Forte had a pair of 12-yard touchdown runs in the first half as Tulane built a 14-0 lead. Forte led all rushers with 87 yards on 22 carries.
Tulane (1-1, 1-0 Conference USA) kept the ball twice as long as SMU, finishing with more than 40 minutes of possession time.
The Green Wave took advantage of good field position on both first-half scoring drives.
Forte accounted for 30 rushing yards on a 52-yard drive to the first score, and the second scoring drive covered just 24 yards after a 47-yard punt return by Sean Lucas. Forte scored on a handoff up the middle with 1:14 left in the first half.
SMU (1-3), which was making its Conference USA debut, had only three first downs in the first half and finished the game with 127 yards total offense.
Mustangs quarterback Jerad Romo was just 4-of-11 for 25 yards, and the Green Wave defense had nine sacks.
"I can't say enough about our defense," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said. "We take a lot of pride in our offense, but I feel like defensively, if we play like this all year, that will keep us in the game. When you can put pressure on a quarterback with four guys, you are going to have a tough day at the office."
The 127 yards of total offense by SMU was the least allowed by a Tulane defense since the 1997 season.
The teams combined for 17 points in a span of just 23 seconds in the fourth quarter, a burst that ended with Tulane holding a 24-10 lead.
After Jacob Hartgroves' 24-yard field goal with 11:23 left in the game, SMU's Jesse Henderson fumbled the kickoff, and Tulane's Ray Boudreaux recovered at the SMU 16. Ricard connected with Demarcus Davis on the next play.
Henderson atoned for his earlier mistake by returning the next kick 88 yards for a touchdown, SMU's first kickoff return for a score since 2001.
SMU had an earlier touchdown on a return nullified by a penalty. In the second quarter, Mustangs defensive back Rolando Humphrey intercepted Ricard in the back of the end zone and went more than 100 yards the other way. But the Mustangs were called for an illegal block in the back.
Ricard's other touchdown was a 27-yarder to Bubba Terranova that completed the scoring in the fourth quarter.