Oct. 22, 2011
NEW ORLEANS - Junior linebacker Trent Mackey hit the 100-tackle plateau for the season and the sophomore duo of Orleans Darkwa and Wilson Van Hooser both posted 100-yard receiving days, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped its Homecoming contest to Conference USA foe Memphis, 33-17, Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Green Wave rallied from a 14-3 first-half deficit to take a 17-14 lead on Van Hooser's 29-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Ryan Griffin 2:36 into the third quarter. From there, however, Memphis rattled off 19 unanswered points courtesy of a pick six, a touchdown run and a field goal to account for the final score.
In defeat, Tulane fell to 2-6 on the year and 1-3 in C-USA action. It was the Green Wave's fourth straight loss and the sixth consecutive against the Tigers dating back to 2002 season. Memphis, meanwhile, improved to 2-7 overall and 1-4 in league play.
"It was a tough game...not the results that we wanted, not the results the young men and the coaching staff putting their heads on their pillows last night had expected," Tulane interim head football coach Mark Hutson said. "Give (Memphis) credit. They have a big defensive front up there and some of the interior tackle-to-tackle runs we weren't having a lot of success with.
"I think coming out of this game, a lot of people will say that it's the same team. They came out gave the same effort and came out with the same result, and that's fine. It will be said, but when I look in the young men's eyes and talking to them in the locker room after that, I think there was a change in their attitude. I think there was a change in their effort. They did come out with enthusiasm, they did come out playing hard, and they never gave up at the end of the game."
Darkwa led all players with 112 yards on a career-high seven receptions while Van Hooser had six receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown. Darkwa also led the rushing effort with 84 yards and a score on 18 carries. Griffin completed 31-of-50 passes for a season-best 377 yards, but his two interceptions proved costly in defeat.
Mackey, meanwhile, paced the Tulane defense with 13 tackles (8 solo, 5 assists), including a sack among two tackles for loss. He now has 100 tackles on the season and, combined with his 124 stops a year ago, becomes the first Green Wave player to post back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Anthony Cannon in 2004 and 2005.
Memphis drew first blood as Taylor Reed capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive on the Tigers' second possession of the game with a two-yard touchdown pass to tight end Justin Henderson. The Green Wave answered with a 23-yard Cairo Santos field goal, but the Tigers came right back with a five-play, 64-yard drive which saw Reed hook up with Tannar Rehrer from 19 yards out to put Memphis on top 14-3 with 9:46 to play in the first half.
Undaunted, the Green Wave cut the deficit to four as Darkwa scored on a seven-yard run with 2:45 to play in the second quarter, and Griffin found Van Hooser on the opening drive of the second half to put Tulane ahead 17-14. The Tulane defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession and it appeared as if the Wave were about to take control of the contest as Griffin drove the offense to the Memphis 15 four plays later. His screen pass to Darkwa, however, was picked off by Bobby McCain and the Tigers' defensive back returned it 79 yards for the go-ahead score.
The PAT was blocked by sophomore cornerback Derrick Strozier, but Tulane had a special teams play of its own go awry which set the tone for the rest of the game. Ricky Holloway blocked a Green Wave punt on the next possession and Kendrick Golden recovered it at the seven-yard line. Tulane's defense held for the next three snaps but Reed snuck in from one yard out on fourth down to extend the lead to 26-17 with 4:40 remaining in the third quarter.
The two teams traded turnovers as Kenyata Johnson snared a Griffin offering and junior Ryan Travis returned the favor with an interception of Reed on the very next play. Following a pair of punts, Tulane had an opportunity to cut into the deficit a bit, but Santos' 46-yard field goal attempt clanged off the upright to keep it a nine-point ballgame. Memphis closed out the scoring on a 22-yard Billy Foster reverse for a touchdown with 6:55 left in regulation.
"Overall, I'm proud of the coaches, proud of the young men - our student athletes - in the way they responded this week in an adverse situation," Hutson said. "They could have had, obviously, different results during the week but Tuesday they sorted things out. Wednesday they came out and had a very spirited practice, along with Thursday, and with Friday."
Foster led Memphis with 58 yards and a score on 15 carries while Reed completed 14-of-26 passes for 213 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Rehrer was Reed's favorite target for the day, hauling in five passes for 57 yards and a score.Terrence Thomas paced the Tigers with a game-high 14 tackles (9 solo, 5 assists).
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Oct. 29, when they travel to Greenville, N.C., to take on league foe East Carolina. The game against the Pirates is the first of two straight road contests for Tulane as the Wave will play at SMU on Nov. 5.
Tulane's next home game is slated for Thursday, Nov. 12, when the Wave play host to Houston. That game will be the final regular-season contest of the year and the program will honor its 12-member senior class of Joe Kemp, Dezman Moses, Albert Williams, Emmanuel Aluko, Chris Asumnu, Taylor Echols, Harris Howard, Joey Ray, Kristofar Rhymes, Josh Smith, Kasey Stelly and Cedric Wilson.
Single-game tickets for that game, as well as future Green Wave Athletics events, are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. Sideline tickets are $35, adult endzone seats selling for $20 and youth endzone seats cost $10. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr., 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.