Sept. 25, 2008
NEW ORLEANS -- Junior running back André Anderson ran for a career-best 219 yards and sophomore quarterback Kevin Moore posted the first three-touchdown performance of his career as the Tulane University football team defeated Conference USA foe SMU, 34-27, Thursday evening at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Green Wave scored 31 points in the first half courtesy of Moore's three scoring strikes, an Anderson touchdown jaunt and a 32-yard field goal by junior Ross Thevenot to take a 24-point lead into the locker room at the break. In the second half, the Mustangs rallied for a pair of touchdown passes by Bo Levi Mitchell and two field goals by Thomas Morestead. The first-half advantage, however, proved to be the difference in the ballgame as Tulane evened its record at 2-2 overall and 1-1 in C-USA action. SMU, meanwhile, fell to 1-4 on the year and 0-2 in league play.
"I'm very pleased we won the football game," Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo said. "I just told our team that we're 1-0 in the Western Division right now and we control our own destiny. We share the lead at the top and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to win the football game.
"I'm very disappointed with the second half performance. I thought we got really sloppy...so I'm disappointed in the way we played in the second half, particularly with all the penalties we had. It shouldn't have been that close of a football game and that's the thing that's disappointing. But again, we play this game to win and we won the football game."
For the third consecutive week, Anderson was the Green Wave's workhorse as he carried the ball 36 times and finished the day with 257 all-purpose yards - the seventh-most in Tulane single-game history - after hauling in four passes for another 38 yards through the air.
Ninety-three of his rushing yards came in the fist half on 17 carries, while Anderson galloped for another 126 yards after halftime. With Tulane clinging to a seven-point lead late in the ballgame, Anderson put the game away with a 40-yard run to give the Green Wave a first down, which allowed the team to run out the clock.
"That's a Matt Forté kind of night," Toledo said of Anderson's performance against the Mustangs. "I'm pleased with his conditioning and his effort. He ran just as strong into the first quarter as he ran at the end of the game. That's the thing I talk about with wearing people down and running the football. If you run the football, you wear them down and they're getting tired in the second half.
"If we didn't turn the ball over and have as many penalties as we had, then it would've been a lot different than what it was. And then again, when we run the ball like we, do it opens up the play-action passes. We hurt them really bad with deep play-action passes as their safety was coming up."
Moore's favorite target on the evening was junior wideout Jeremy Williams, who hauled in six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Williams' 51-yard touchdown reception two and a half minutes into the second quarter put Tulane on top 17-0, but SMU got on the board just over two minutes later when Mustang quarterback Mitchell found Aldrick Robinson streaking down the left sideline for a 45-yard scoring strike.
The Green Wave responded with a six-play, 71-yard drive on the ensuing possession with culminated on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Anderson, and Moore found Williams again - this time from 21 yards out - with 2:15 remaining in the first half to give Tulane a commanding 31-7 lead.
The second half, however, was a much different ballgame as SMU capitalized on a pair of Tulane turnovers to claw their way back into the ballgame. A fumble by freshman fullback Kasey Stelly on the opening possession of the third quarter led to a 25-yard Morestead field goal. Tulane had something going on its next drive, but SMU linebacker Justin Smart cut a route at the Mustang 10 yard line, and that led Morestead's second field goal of the stanza.
SMU's defense forced a Tulane punt, and the Mustang offense methodically moved 80 yards on six plays to cut the lead to 11 when Mitchell found Emmanuel Sanders from 18 yards out to make it a 31-20 ballgame. Tulane stretched the lead back to 14 on a 43-yard Thevenot field goal with 4:01 left in the game, but Levi connected with Terrance Wilkerson for a 13-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes later to account for the final score.
Tulane opened the scoring when Moore found sophomore wide receiver Alan Mitchell - who made his collegiate debut Thursday night against SMU - for a 23-yard touchdown pass 7:27 into the ballgame, and Thevenot made it a 10-0 ballgame with a 32-yard field goal less than eight minutes later.
Moore finished the night 19-of-24 for 254 yards passing. The Green Wave defense limited SMU to just 55 yards on 13 carries, and 34 of those yards came on a botched punt that Morestead turned into long gainer. Redshirt-freshman defensive back Dominque Dade and junior safety Corey Sonnier tied for the Tulane lead with four tackles each, while senior safety David Skehan and senior cornerback Josh Lumar both posted interceptions on the night. Skehan's pick helped set up Tulane's first touchdown, while Lumar's interception helped thwart a fourth-quarter drive by SMU and helped set up Thevenot's final scoring boot.
Mitchell led the Mustang attack with 256 yards and three scores on 21-of-44 passing with a pair of interceptions. Sanders led all players with nine receptions for 115 yards, while Robinson finished with four grabs for 106 yards through the air. Smart posted a game-best 12 tackles (seven solo, five assists), while Derrius Bell posted nine stops on the day.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 4, when they celebrate Homecoming 2008 against Army at Tad Gormley Stadium. Kickoff for that ballgame is slated for 2 p.m. Tickets to the Tulane/Army matchup are on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office and can be picked up in person on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.