Oct. 20, 2007
DALLAS, Texas--Senior running back Matt Forté ran for a Tulane and Conference USA record 342 yards, and junior defensive end Reggie Scott forced a game-clinching fumble with a sack of Mustang quarterback Justin Willis, as the Tulane University football team defeated Conference USA foe SMU, 41-34 in overtime, Saturday evening at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Forté ran for four touchdowns on 38 carries, including a career-long 77-yard touchdown jaunt in the second quarter and a nine-yard scoring run to cap the Green Wave's opening possession of the overtime period. With SMU still having a chance with first-and-10 at the Tulane 25 yard line, Scott beat his block, forced a fumble that was recovered by senior defensive tackle Avery Williams to spark the Tulane celebration.
"We finally finished a game," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "That's one of the things that I've been telling our guys. We needed to learn to finish and we finished this game. Matt had an unbelievable performance tonight. They guy carries this football team on his shoulders. He had some long runs. He's physical. He scored four touchdowns, he had 342 yards rushing. What more can you say about the guy? He's a great, great football player."
Forté's rushing effort accounted for the bulk of Tulane's season-best 521 yards of total offense. The offensive line opened gaping holes for him all night, and Forté was only tackled for a loss one time. The rushing total marked the second time in 2007 that Forté set the school and C-USA rushing mark, surpassing the 303 yards he had against Southeastern Louisiana back on Sept. 22.
"When I was on the sideline late in the game, a couple of guys said something about (my rushing total) but once I get on the field, I forget about that and just try and run as hard as I can," Forté said. "In overtime with the game on the line with one defender in front of you and the goal line a couple of yards away, you've got to run through him and score that touchdown. There was great blocking the whole game, and all I had to do was do my job - and that's to make people miss or run over them and get in the endzone."
SMU drew first blood as Willis connected with Emmanuel Sanders for a 26-yard scoring strike with 4:43 left to play in the first quarter, and the Mustangs made it a 10-0 ballgame on a 30-yard field goal by Thomas Morstead 12 second into the second quarter.
From there, the Tulane offense got on track and sophomore quarterback Anthony Scelfo hooked up with fellow sophomore Jeremy Williams from 22 yards out to cut the deficit to three. SMU capped a 70-yard drive on the ensuing possession with a 17-yard strike from Willis to Sanders less than a minute and a half later, but Tulane responded with a 77-yard touchdown jaunt by Forté and a 32-yard field goal off the toe of sophomore Ross Thevenot to make it a tie ballgame going into the locker room at halftime.
Thevenot opened the scoring in the second half with a career-long 47-yard field goal and Forté capped a 92-yard drive one possession later with his second touchdown of the day to give the Green Wave a 27-17 advantage. SMU, however, would not go away as Mustang running back DeMyron Martin scored from one yard out and Morstead nailed a 37-yard field goal to tie the score with 7:35 left to play in regulation.
The Green Wave reclaimed the lead with a 76-yard drive which included a 65 yard Forté run through traffic and a five-yard rumble by the record-setter to give Tulane a 34-27 lead. The Tulane defense forced a three-and-out, but the offense was not able to run out the clock and SMU's defense held on third-and-four from their own 35.
Following a punt by rookie Darren deRochemont, which pinned SMU at their own 19-yard line, Willis led the Mustangs mythodically down the field and capped the 81-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Zack Sledge with eight seconds on the clock to set up the dramatics in overtime.
Scelfo, who split time with redshirt-freshman Kevin Moore under center, passed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 8-of-15 passing. Moore, meanwhile, went 5-for-7 for 58 yards in his most extensive playing time of the season. Jeremy Williams was one of six Tulane players to catch a pass on the day and led the club with five receptions for 74 yards and a score.
Junior middle linebacker Evan Lee and junior free safety David Skehan tied for team-high tackle honors with eight apiece. Scott, Avery Williams, Logan Kelley and Joe Goosby all had sacks on the day, and the Green Wave forced a pair of turnovers as junior cornerback Josh Lumar posted his first career interception and Scott forced the game-clinching fumble.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 27, when they celebrate Homecoming 2007 against Memphis at 2 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome. Single-game tickets for the 2007 Green Wave season remain on sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased in person, over the telephone at (504) 861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.