Oct. 10, 2009
NEW ORLEANS - Senior running back André Anderson tallied 135 all-purpose yards and senior wideout Jeremy Williams snared a game-high eight passes, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a 31-10 Homecoming decision to Conference USA foe Marshall Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Green Wave dominated the stat sheet, running for 189 yards to Marshall's 116 and posting 215 yards through the air to the Herd's 207. The difference in the game, however, was turnovers where Tulane gave away the ball four times - two fumbles and a pair of interceptions - and Marshall turned that into two touchdowns and a field goal.
With the loss, Tulane saw its two-game winning streak come to and end as the Green Wave fall to 2-3 on the year and 0-2 in C-USA play. Marshall, meanwhile, won its second straight road game for the first time since 2004 to improve to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in league action.
"I told our team that (Marshall is) not a better football team than we are," Tulane head football coach Bob Toledo said. "We are just as good as that team. But when you give an opponent that many opportunities, it's hard to win. And we gave them too many opportunities."
Trailing 14-7 with 41 seconds left in the first half, Tulane had a chance to tie the ballgame as the Green Wave drove from its own 18 all the way to the Marshall one. A two-yard Anderson run gave Tulane third-and-goal from the one, but the Thundering Herd defense stopped Anderson cold on third down and nailed sophomore fullback Antoine Duplessis on fourth down to send the Green Wave away scoreless despite a 19-play, 81-yard drive that chewed 10:59 off the clock.
To make matters worse for Tulane, the Marshall offense marched 99 yards down the field over the next 4:08 and capped the drive when Brian Anderson found Chuck Walker down the middle for a 21-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the opening half to take a commanding 21-7 lead in the ballgame.
"You worked so hard and then to have that happen to you is tough," Toledo said. "I'm disappointed that we turned the ball over four times. We went down the field and had a 19-play drive, get down to the one-foot line and don't get it in. Our right guard missed a block, and they go 99-yards and score. It was very frustrating. We out-rushed them, we out-passed them, but we didn't out-score them. And obviously, we didn't win.
"The turnovers were devastating. They recovered a fumble and run it in for a touchdown, and then the interception and go down and score. You can almost count the turnover on fourth down when we don't make it down there. That was a huge turnover, because it was a big swing in points. We had a chance to score. We didn't get anything and they go down the field and they score a touchdown. That was a huge momentum swing for them."
The Green Wave defense held Marshall running back Darius Marshall - the NCAA's leader entering the ballgame with a 159.75 yard-per-game average - to just 98 yards on 20 carries. Marshall, however, found the endzone twice and Anderson had a solid day under center, completing 18-of-22 passes for 207 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Junior defensive back Alex Wacha led the defensive effort, tying a career high with eight tackles (five solo, three assists) and a pass break-up. Senior linebacker Travis Burks had seven tackles, and senior strong safety Chinonso Echebelem was next with six.
Tulane drew first blood on Saturday, taking the opening kickoff and driving 67 yards on eight plays for a touchdown. Facing a second-and-six situation from the Herd 32-yard line, Toledo reached into his bag of tricks with a swinging gate that saw sophomore quarterback Joe Kemp snap the ball to Anderson. Anderson darted left initially before handing off to freshman wide receiver Jordan Sullen who ran untouched into the endzone for his first collegiate score.
While his first trick play turned into a touchdown, Toledo's second did not fare as well as a surprise on-side kickoff attempt was recovered by Marshall's Pete Culicerto at the Tulane 44-yard line. The Herd took advantage of the short field and Marshall capped a six-play drive with an 11-yard by the running back of the same name to tie the score.
The two teams traded punts, and Tulane had something going late in the opening quarter as the Green Wave converted a pair of third downs to get into Marshall territory. A sack pushed the Wave back to their own 45 and Albert McClellan forced a fumble on the next play. Ashton Hall scooped up the ball and run 29 yards to give the Herd a 14-7 lead they would not relinquish.
Tulane went into the locker room at halftime down by two scores, but it became a three-score ballgame early in the third quarter as an Anderson fumble gave Marshall the ball at its own 38 yard line. Eight plays, 47 yards and a 32-yard Craig Ratanamorn field goal later, the Thundering Herd were on top by 17.
Early in the fourth quarter, Brandon Burns picked off a Kemp pass and returned it 65 yards to set up the Herd offense at Tulane's five yard line. On the next play, Marshall's Marshall made it a 24-point affair with his second touchdown plunge of the day.
Senior kicker Ross Thevenot cut the deficit to 21 with a 33-yard field goal with 9:31 left to play, but that proved to the final score of the ballgame.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 17, when they play host to C-USA foe Houston at 2:30 p.m. 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.