Sept. 26, 2009
NEW ORLEANS -- Seniors André Anderson and Jeremy Williams combined for 431 all-purpose yards as the Tulane University football team picked up its first win of the 2009 season with a 42-32 victory over McNeese State Saturday afternoon in the Louisiana Superdome.
Williams snared a career-high 10 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns - and carried the ball four times for 10 yards on the ground - while Anderson finished the day with 199 rushing yards and a personal-best four touchdowns on 28 carries. With the win, Tulane improves to 1-2 on the year. McNeese State, which entered Saturday's contest ranked eighth in the Sports Network's NCAA Division I-Football Championship Subdivision, fell to 3-1.
"First of all, we got the monkey off of our backs, so to speak," Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo said. "I can't tell you how happy I am for our players, our coaches and the people that have continued to support us. The people stayed with us and didn't jump ship so to speak, so I'm happy for all those people that hung in there with us.
"I was really pleased with a lot of our players, particularly André Anderson, who we lost a year ago - and you see how important he is to our football team - and Jeremy Williams, another guy we lost last year. When you lose two players like that, it puts a big dent in your football team and that's what happened to us a year ago. They proved their worth today. They showed you how good they really are."
Williams posted the seventh 100-yard receiving day of his career. His total against the Cowboys ranks third in Tulane single-game history, 16 behind second-place Marc Zeno against then-Southwest Louisiana on Nov. 14, 1987 and 49 off the Green Wave record of 271 set by Jerome McIntosh vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 18, 1989. Anderson, meanwhile, posted his fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career and his Saturday total ranks 14th in school history.
Sophomore quarterback Joe Kemp completed 10-of-13 passes - all to Williams - with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions. Senior linebacker Travis Burks paced the defense with 11 tackles (six solo, five assists), while freshman linebacker Shakiel Smith and senior safety Chinonso Echebelem followed close behind with eight each.
The Green Wave defense forced a season-high four fumbles, including two by junior safety Alex Wacha. The four fumbles were the most forced by a Tulane team since Sept. 13, 2003 in a 31-28 win over Mississippi State. Senior defensive end Logan Kelley and freshman linebacker Austen Jacks - who was playing in his first collegiate game - each posted a sack in the victory.
The Cowboys got on the board first, taking the opening kickoff and driving 54 yards down the field capped by a 29-yard field goal by Josh Lewis 3:38 into the ballgame. The advantage lasted just 1:24 as Anderson ran for 12 yards on the Green Wave's first play from scrimmage, Kemp found Williams for a 44-yard gain and Anderson plunged in from two yards out two plays later to give the Green Wave a 7-3 lead.
McNeese State answered Tulane's score with a touchdown of its own as Cowboys' tailback Todd Pendland capped a 10-play, 81-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 6:07 left to play in the opening quarter.
Neither team scored on their next possessions, but Tulane took the lead for good when on Anderson's second scoring run of the day - an 11-yard jaunt 2:49 into the second stanza. The Green Wave defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense picked up where it left off as Kemp found Williams for a 34-yard touchdown pass to cap a four-play, 59-yard drive and give Tulane a 21-10 lead.
The Cowboys got back some momentum with a clock-eating 16-play, 86-yard drive on the ensuing possession which culminated with a one-yard Pendland score but Tulane went into the locker room at the break on top by four.
It took the Green Wave just 2:41 into the second half to pad its lead as Kemp found Williams from 40 yards out to push the lead back to nine. Two McNeese State drives later, however, the Cowboys sliced the lead to three as quarterback Derrick Fourroux connected with Richard Connor for a seven-yard touchdown and found Wes Mangan for a two-point conversion to make it a 28-25 contest.
The Tulane offense, meanwhile, answered quickly with a two-play drive capped by a 63-yard touchdown run by Anderson with just under two minutes to play in the third, and seven-play, 66-yard drive finishing with two-yard Anderson rumble to give the Green Wave a commanding 42-25 lead.
The Cowboys, however, would not go away quietly as McNeese State took just 41 seconds to cut the deficit to 10 as Fourroux hooked up with Immanuel Friddle for a 43-yard gain, and Friddle recovered a Pendland fumble in the endzone to make it 42-32. An interception by Seth Thomas - his second of the game - gave the Cowboys new life 2:11 later, but Wacha jarred the ball loose from Fourroux on a quarterback keeper and the Green Wave was able to run out the clock.
"It was really good to see André running the ball like he was a year ago before he got hurt," Williams said. "I know when he's running the ball like that, it's going to be hard for them to hold both of us down. I try to come 100 percent every play and now that we have Dré going, it's going to be hard to beat us. And I'm also proud of the 0-Line. They really brought it. We needed them to bring it this game and they did a great job."
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 3, when they travel to West Point, N.Y., to take on the Black Knights of the U.S. Military Academy at 11 a.m. (CDT) at Michie Stadium. Following the game in New York, Tulane returns home for a homecoming showdown with Conference USA rival Marshall on Oct. 10, in the Louisiana Superdome. For ticket information, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE. Tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.