Oct. 27, 2007
NEW ORLEANS, La.-Senior running back Matt Forté posted his fourth consecutive 200-plus yard rushing game to become the school's single-season rushing king, and the Green Wave defense held the Tigers to 58 yards rushing, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a Homecoming heart-breaker to Conference USA foe Memphis, 28-27, Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome.
Forté rambled for 278 yard and two scores on a school-record 44 carries, but Memphis quarterback Martin Hankins connected with wideout Duke Calhoun for a five-yard touchdown pass with 36 seconds to play to lift the Tigers to the nail-biting victory. With the loss, Tulane falls to 2-6 on the year and 1-3 in C-USA play. Memphis, meanwhile, improves to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in league action.
"One play doesn't make the game," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "We didn't score touchdowns. We had to kick field goals, and we missed a big one at the end. We ran the ball well. We stopped the running game pretty well. We did not stop their passing game.
"I'm really sick for these guys because they've really worked their tails off, and they deserved better tonight. My hat's off to (Memphis head coach) Tommy West and his team. They battled back too, and won the football game. I just feel so bad for our football team because they worked so hard, and to end it like that was sad."
Lost in the shuffle of the late-game antics was Forté breaking Mewelde Moore's single-season rushing record of 1,421 in 2001. Through eight games this season, Forté has 1,539 yards in 2007 and is on pace to finish the year with 2,309 yards. That would give Forté 4,447 yards for his career - 83 more than Moore's career record of 4,364 set from 2000-03.
Tulane drove from its own 27 all the way to the Memphis five yard line, but on fourth-and-goal, sophomore place kicker Ross Thevenot's 22-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to keep the door cracked open just enough to keep the Tigers' hopes alive.
With new life, Memphis drove 80 yards on nine plays and Hankins' pass to Calhoun tied the game at 27-all. The play was reviewed as there was a question if the ball ever broke the plane of the endzone, but the replay booth confirmed the call on the field, and Matt Reagan's PAT proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
Tulane still had a chance as the Tigers' squib kick was fielded by sophomore Troy Wilson and returned to the Green Wave 38 yard line. A nine-yard completion from sophomore Anthony Scelfo to Forté stopped the clock and the Wave picked up the first down when Scelfo connected with senior tight end Gabe Ratcliff for four yards at the Memphis 49.
Initially, the side judge ruled that Ratcliff had gotten out of bounds, but after moving the chains, the clock started again. Scelfo and Toledo argued the starting of the clock, but to no avail, and time expired following a five-yard Scelfo run.
"It's another sick feeling," Toledo said. "I just told the team, I apologize to them because I didn't call timeout. I thought the ball was out of bounds. They had stopped the clock. Matt was running towards the sideline. The guys in the headset said he was out of bounds. I thought we'd have time to run another play, call timeout and kick a field goal. I blame myself for that one then. It was a hard call."
Tulane had a chance to take the early lead as the Green Wave drove 65 yards to the Memphis one on the opening possession of the ballgame. On second-and-goal, however, Forté's stretch for the goal line was knocked from his hands and Quinton McCrary recovered for the Tigers at the Memphis one yard line.
Thevenot eventually put Tulane on the board with a career-long 48-yard field goal with 3:03 left to play in the opening quarter, but the Tigers answered with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that was capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Earnest Williams to make it a 7-3 ballgame.
A 37-yard Thevenot field goal with 7:41 on the clock in the second quarter, and Forté gave the Wave a 13-7 advantage with a 51-yard touchdown jaunt just over two minutes later.
Following a Memphis punt with 1:14 left in the opening half, Tulane appeared ready to take the six-point lead into the locker room at halftime, but a Scelfo interception on first down gave the Tigers the ball back. Three plays later, Hankins hooked up with Earnest Williams for a 47-yard touchdown strike to give Memphis a 14-13 advantage at the break.
Tulane took a 20-14 lead in its first possession of the second half when Scelfo connected with sophomore Jeremy Williams on a play-action pass for a 32-yard touchdown strike, but Memphis reserve signal caller Matt Malouf tossed a five-yard TD pass to Carlton Singleton 2:43 later to set up the fourth-quarter fireworks.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Nov. 3, when they play host to C-USA foe Tulsa at 6:30 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome. The game will be broadcast live on College Sports Television. 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.