Sept. 29, 2012
NEW ORLEANS - Junior kicker Cairo Santos tied a Green Wave record with a 54-yard field goal and junior middle linebacker Zach Davis tallied a career-high 12 tackles to go with a sack among 2.0 tackles for loss and an interception, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a 63-10 decision to ULM on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Warhawks scored touchdowns on eight of their first 11 drives and nine of their 15 overall possessions to pick up their first head-to-head win in three tries over the Green Wave. With the loss, Tulane falls to 0-4 on the year and opens the season with four-straight losses for the first time since 2001. ULM, meanwhile, improved to 2-2.
"It was another tough day for us," first-year Tulane head football coach Curtis Johnson said. "It's not much fun going into the third (straight) game with a third different quarterback. I thought (D.J. Ponder) did as well as he could do probably under the circumstances. He really hadn't had any reps throughout the whole time. We just have to do a better job running the football. Our defense didn't play as well. I thought we did good in spots.
"We're in a little bit of a struggle. It's going to go as far as the quarterback goes. That's what this offense is about, what this team is about. Right now, our first two are hurt. D.J. played as well as he could. We can't run all our offense. I think it takes a little bit of getting used to. The rushing attack...we have to get better, and we will. Defensively, we are playing an awful lot of young guys. I think they will continue to fight. We will get better."
Santos' kick tied the Green Wave record originally set by Mark Olivari on Nov. 8, 1975 against Air Forced and equaled by Ed Murray on Oct. 28, 1975, against Memphis. Davis, meanwhile, had eight solo tackles and four assisted stop, and his 2.0 tackles for loss marked the first multiple-TFL outing of his career. Freshman cornerback Lorenzo Doss added an interception to the Green Wave tally to mark the second consecutive game that Tulane forced multiple turnovers.
Making the first start of his collegiate career, senior quarterback D.J. Ponder completed 21-of-44 passes for 160 yards - including a 18-yard scoring strike to junior wide receiver Ryan Grant with 12:05 to play in the fourth quarter - but was intercepted three times.
Sophomore Justyn Shackleford tied a career high with a team-best seven catches and set a career high with 76 yards through the air. Grant was next for Tulane with six receptions for 50 yards.
The ULM defense held Tulane to a season-low 151 yards of total offense, including minus-nine yards on 21 rushing attempts. The Warhawks countered with 553 yards of total offense (222 rushing, 331 passing). Four ULM players completed at least one pass, three ran for at least 30 yards and six caught at least two passes.
"They got it going a little bit," Johnson added. "They stayed ahead of the chains so they got you in the guessing game a little bit. Again I thought the quarterback was outstanding. These young kids, they play pretty decent in the back end. They gave up a couple of big ones. Doss had a god pick, so did Davis. They just gave up too much, and we have to get them playing with a little bit more veteran-like attitude."
ULM wasted little time getting on the scoreboard as Jyruss Edwards scored on a seven-yard touchdown run 2:06 into the ballgame. On their next drive, the Warhawks drove 76 yards on 15 plays and Kolton Browning capped the effort with a three-yard scoring pass to Kevin Steed. With 11 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, the Warhawk defense added to the tally as R.J. Young picked off a Ponder pass, returned it to the Green Wave six-yard line, and fumbled. The ball was recovered in the endzone by Ray Stovall to stake ULM to a 21-0 lead.
Doss interception snapped the Warhawks' consecutive touchdown drives streak, and Santos' record-tying field goal cut the deficit to 18 with 12:25 to go before halftime. ULM, however, added touchdown strikes from Browning to Je'Ron Hamm and Tavarese Maye of 29 and 38 yards, respectively, to make it 25-3 at the break.
The halftime intermission did little to cool the Warhawk attack as ULM scored 21 unanswered points in the third courtesy of a three-yard Edwards run, a one-yard Monterrekk Washington jaunt and a six-yard interception return by Darious Lively.
Tulane scored its first touchdown since the fourth quarter of the Tulsa contest on Sept. 8, on Ponder's pass to Grant, and ULM closed out the scoring with 2:51 to play when DeVontae McNeal broke free for a 42-yard touchdown run.
Browning led ULM with 253 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-21 passing. McNeal led the ground game with 114 yards on 10 carries, and Brent Leonard was the favorite target on the day with four grabs for 63 yards.
Trey Caldwell and Hunter Kissinger shared team-high tackle honors for ULM with six each. Kissinger and Jackson Randle each had sacks for the Warhawks and Otis Peterson led the secondary with a pair of pass break-ups.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 6, when they travel to Cajun Country to take on Louisiana-Lafayette at 4 p.m. at Cajun Field. Tulane's next home game is slated for Saturday, Oct. 13, when the Green Wave play host to Conference USA foe SMU at noon in the Superdome.
Tickets to that game and future Green Wave events are available through 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, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.