Ground Game, Defense Lift Football Past ULM

Junior fullback Rob Kelley scored from seven yards out late in the first half to stake the Wave to a 10-0 halftime lead. Kelley finished with 76 yards on 16 carries.

Junior fullback Rob Kelley scored from seven yards out late in the first half to stake the Wave to a 10-0 halftime lead. Kelley finished with 76 yards on 16 carries.

Sept. 28, 2013

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MONROE, La. - The Green Wave offense pounded out a season-high 253 rushing yards and the defense forced five turnovers courtesy of three fumble recoveries and a pair of interceptions as the Tulane University football team capped a three-game road swing with a 31-14 win at ULM on Saturday evening in Malone Stadium.

Tulane's rushing total was the first 200-plus yard effort since running for 262 yards at UAB on Sept. 17, 2011. Conversely, the Green Wave held the Warhawks to a paltry 26 yards, a number aided by a season-best five sacks. With the win, Tulane improves to 3-2 on the year. ULM, meanwhile, fell to 2-3.

"That's how we have to win," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "We can run the ball and if we can keep these games close, we can be able to throw the ball again and throw it well. It was a good game for us. We played well."

Senior running back Orleans Darkwa led the running attack with 118 yards and a score on 17 carries while junior fullback Robert Kelley had 76 yards and a score on 16 totes. Junior quarterback Nick Montana threw a touchdown pass for the fifth consecutive contest - connecting with senior wideout Ryan Grant for a 26-yard scoring strike - and senior middle linebacker Dominique Robertson joined in the scoring with a 33-yard fumble return.

While the points were mounting on the scoreboard, the Green Wave defense did an admirable job against an offense that Johnson spoke of with great reverence heading into the contest. Tulane's five sacks - the most by the Green Wave since tallying seven against Southeastern Louisiana in the 2011 season opener - led to 32 yards in losses. The lone touchdown allowed by the defense on the night came midway through the fourth quarter when the game was all but decided.

"I'm obviously very pleased," Johnson said. "Rob Kelley was excellent. Orleans Darkwa had 116 yards and a touchdown. Our running game did a great job today. Defensively, I thought they played outstanding. They were terrific. It was an outstanding effort."

Tulane drew first blood in the contest when senior Cairo Santos drilled a 56-yard field goal on the Wave's opening possession. Neither team could get much going the rest of the opening 30 minutes, but the Wave found its rhythm late and Kelley capped a seven-play, 48-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown jaunt with 2:07 to play before the end of the first half to make it a 10-0 ballgame at the intermission.

The break in the action did little to cool the momentum built by the Green Wave as they took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and marched 75 yards on five plays before Darkwa broke the goal line with a one-yard run. On the ensuing possession, sophomore cornerback Jordan Batiste jarred the ball loose from ULM quarterback Kolton Browning with a sack and Robinson was able to scoop the ball on a hop and take it to the endzone to extend the lead to 24-0 with 11:27 left to play in the third quarter.

ULM got on the board just under three minutes later when Rashon Ceaser returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown, but Tulane got the points right back on the very next possession when Montana found Grant in the right corner of the endzone to account for the Green Wave's final points of the night. The Warhawks closed out the scoring when reserve signal caller Brayle Brown fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ajalen Holley with 7:45 remaining in the contest.

Batiste led the Green Wave defense with eight tackles (6 solo, 2 assists) while sophomore safety Darion Monroe was close behind with six (3 solo, 3 assists). Both players had the first sacks of their respective careers along the way, Batiste and senior defensive back Derrick Strozier each had an interception, and senior linebacker Zach Davis had a team-best 2.0 tackles for loss.

Browning completed 12-of-27 passes for 134 yards while Brown finished the day 10-of-18 for 133 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Tavarese Maye led all players with five catches for 45 yards. Cameron Blakes led the ULM defense with a game-best 12 tackles (4 solo, 8 assists).

Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 5, when the Green Wave play host to North Texas for Homecoming 2013 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff for that ballgame is slated for 2:30 p.m.

For tickets to the Tulane/North Texas game, as well as future Green Wave events, contact 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 weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.